Children Living with Smokers More Likely to be Hungry

Researchers at the New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center found that children living with adult smokers are more likely to be underfed.

Data was analyzed on 8,817 households with children for a period of 3 years. In that time they found that 15% of adults and 11% of children reported ‘food insecurity’, while 6% of adults and 1% of children experienced severe food insecurity.

Food insecurity was a term developed in the 1990’s by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is defined as “the inability to access enough food in a socially acceptable way for every day of the year.”

"We know that there are long-term consequences of food insecurity for children. They are more likely to do poorly in school, to have iron deficiency and anemia, and to have behavioral and social problems," said Dr. Michael Weitzman, author of the study.

Researchers found that food insecurity was more common and severe in children and adults in households with smokers.

Going into more detail:

17 percent of children living in households with smokers experienced food insecurity compared to only 8.7% in households without smokers. Severe food insecurity was found in 3.2% of households in smokers and only 0.9% without smokers. They also found that black and Hispanic families had higher rates of child food insecurity than white families.

Researchers state that families with at least one smoker spend anywhere from 2 percent to 20 percent of their income on tobacco.

“The burden of food insecurity is a previously unrecognized danger of adult tobacco use to be added to the ever-growing list of negative effects of adult tobacco use on children in the United States,” the study’s authors conclude.

The findings were published in the November issue of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.


Sources: Arch-Pedi, Post