Time for Kids: How food insecurity can lead to longterm health issues

MADISON, Wis. — We know that inadequate access to healthy foods can lead to hunger but experiencing food insecurity can lead to real medical issues for children.

SSM Health family physician Dr. Roopa Shah says that while it may seem contradictory, chronic food insecurity can lead to our kids being overweight.

“So it may actually seem counterintuitive,” says Shah, “but being phased with food insecurity can actually lead to obesity. Over time, having obesity can lead to chronic health problems like diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, but in kids, this can even lead to issues such as anemia, stunted growth, and asthma.”

While those issues could be longer-term, the immediate problems from chronic hunger include headaches, trouble focusing, tiredness, and irritability. This can be difficult for kids to manage and often interferes with learning.

Dr. Shah says that while some issues can be resolved, issues like asthma and obesity can become chronic, and lead to other health concerns throughout a child’s life. She also says that if you’re concerned about your child’s access to healthy foods or overall health, to consult with their doctor.

Our Time for Kids: Keys to Health team is asking what you want to hear about. Let us know what health topics you’re interested in, or share your family’s health story with us, online here.