Do a search for images of malnutrition on any search engine and you will most likely come up with pictures of wide-eyed, big-bellied babies from some part of the developing world.
Rarely will you see a child from California, Sydney or London in those images, yet increasingly there are people in the first world suffering from malnutrition. They may not be suffering to the same extent as their African counterparts but inadequate food intake leads to starvation wherever you happen to live, and ultimately the outcome will be the same.
Malnutrition is rising alarmingly in the United States. In real terms workers wages are going down, it’s becoming more and more difficult to put food on the table. For many, particularly the low paid this means two things: fuel and food poverty.
For many years those on low salaries have struggled with ever rising utility bills, domestic gas and electric have soared in price in recent years and now experts are warning that food poverty is increasing. People are feeling the squeeze as the costs of feeding their families and heating their homes continues to rise.
Charities are reporting a massive increase in those using food banks, even in seemingly more affluent neighbourhoods and a growing number of teachers report they provide food for hungry children during school hours.
Malnutrition is often called ‘Hidden Hunger’ a term that refers to people who were not underweight but are deficient in vitamins and minerals.
Hidden hunger was affecting more than 2 billion people worldwide in 2014 and it’s likely that number has risen over the last two years.
Here is a list of some of the common deficiencies that occur in malnourished individuals:
Looking for weight loss as a guide to if someone is malnourished is something that many in the medical profession still do…and it annoys me enormously. It is perfectly possible, and indeed common, to see very chubby, apparently healthy children, who are, in fact, malnourished. Many filling and cheap foods are very high in calories so weight gain, rather than weight loss is common but sadly those foods are more often than not devoid of essential vitamins and minerals.
It’s possible to get dirt cheap snack foods that will fill the kids up, but not contribute one iota to their nutrition. I can see how this happens, strapped for cash, with hungry kids the first aim of most parents would be to make sure that they don’t go to bed hungry.
People are getting more and more desperate, and that desperation will cause more and more people to pilfer from food stores. This in turn will cause an even faster rise in prices as the companies involved attempt to recoup their loses, causing a vicious downward spiral amongst those that can least afford it.
- 1 in 6 people in America face hunger.
- The USDA defines “food insecurity” as the lack of access, at times, to enough food for all household members.
- In 2011, households with children reported a significantly higher food insecurity rate than households without children: 20.6% vs. 12.2%.
- Food insecurity exists in every county in America.
- In 2013, 17.5 million households were food insecure.
- More and more people are relying on food banks and pantries.
- 49 million Americans struggle to put food on the table.
- In the US, hunger isn’t caused by a lack of food, but rather the continued prevalence of poverty.
- More than 1 in 5 children is at risk of hunger.
- Among African-Americans and Latinos, it’s 1 in 3.
- Over 20 million children receive free or reduced-price lunch each school day.
- Less than half of them get breakfast, and only 10% have access to summer meal sites.
- For every 100 school lunch programs, there are only 87 breakfast sites and just 36 summer food programs.
- 1 in 7 people are enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nearly half of them are children.
- 40% of food is thrown out in the US every year, or about $165 billion worth. All of this uneaten food could feed 25 million Americans.
- These 8 states have statistically higher food insecurity rates than the US national average (14.6%): Arkansas (21.2%), Mississippi (21.1%), Texas (18.0%), Tennessee (17.4%), North Carolina (17.3%), Missouri (16.9%), Georgia (16.6%), Ohio (16.0%).
It’s shocking that so many people in an affluent country go to sleep each night feeling the pain of hunger. Maybe the politicians should be looking at the statistics of what’s going on at home before handing out tens of millions of dollars in food aid to other countries each year.
With the possibility of a financial crash that would make 2008 look like a children party there has never been a better time to make sure you have enough food in the pantry to keep your family going through a crisis. If you are new to the concept you may was to read Starting Your Preparedness Journey for a few pointers on where to begin.
Preparing for the future is a form of insurance that we can all afford. At it’s most basic it just involves buying a little extra each week, it really is as simple as that.
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