The Hidden Costs of Hunger We All Pay For

Hunger and food insecurity in the United States cost us all a great deal more than we may realize. Maybe you think I’m talking about school lunches and other food-assistance programs, but those aren’t the real costs. In fact, these programs actually save us money in the long run, for example, by improving educational and health outcomes.

The real costs of hunger are hidden. One major hiding place is the healthcare system. Bread for the World Institute’s 2016 Hunger Report, The Nourishing Effect: Ending Hunger, Improving Health, Reducing Inequality — which was released November 23 — shows that in 2014 alone, using very conservative figures, hunger and food insecurity added $160 billion to our national healthcare costs.

The analysis that appears in the Hunger Report was conducted by John Cook of Boston Medical Center and Children’s HealthWatch and Ana Paula Poblacion of Universidade Federal de São Paulo. The figure does not include conditions that appear likely to be worsened by food insecurity, but have not been rigorously evaluated by researchers.

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