Vanessa Oddo, a doctoral candidate in human nutrition at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and her team analyzed data from 1.7 million California public school children against unemployment statistics gathered across the state.
Their results suggest that for every 1% increase in county-level unemployment between 2008 and 2012, there was a 4% higher risk that schoolchildren would become overweight. They cannot determine why exactly unemployment rates correlate with childhood obesity, but there are several possible reasons. Families experiencing economic hardship may tend towards cheaper, high-calorie processed foods. School districts undergoing budget cuts may have less funding for sports or other after school activities. Overall, children’s health suffers when financial resources are scarce.
According to a bullet released by the USDA Office of Communications,
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today awarded $16.8 million in competitive grants to help Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants increase their purchases of fruits and vegetables. The funding comes from the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).”
Descriptions of the funded projects can be found on the NIFA website.
By both improving dietary intake and reducing food insecurity, participation in the federal nutrition programs plays an important role in reducing and preventing obesity. Nearly half of SNAP participants are children, and according to Food Research Action Center, young children in food insecure households that receive SNAP benefits are less likely to be overweight compared to children in similar conditions who are not SNAP participants.
Salud America! is a national online network of researchers, community group leaders, decision-makers, and members of the public working together to support healthy policy and environmental changes that can help reverse obesity among Latino children. In the past, they’ve featured Sugar Bites, the social marketing campaign we produced with First 5 Contra Costa. This week they’re holding a video contest!
SaludHeroes make neighborhoods healthier places to live, learn, and play. Watch their videos on creating healthy communities, vote for your favorite one by June 22nd, 2016, and be entered to win a prize! From creating walkable neighborhoods to rescuing unwanted fruit, these videos suggest innovative ways to create neighborhoods conducive to healthy eating and active living for young children.