Kids Eat Right: Addressing the 'Hungry and Overweight Paradox' Across the Nation
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CHICAGO – Kids Eat Right—a joint initiative of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its Foundation which aims to educate families, communities and policy makers about the importance of quality nutrition—has expanded its resources for food and nutrition professionals to address the “hungry and overweight paradox” of food insecurity that threatens the health of the nation’s children.
Hunger and food insecurity has long been a focus of the Academy and its Foundation. Most recently, the Academy published an updated position paper on food insecurity in the United States, calling for funding for food and nutrition assistance programs, increased nutrition education and efforts to promote economic self-sufficiency for all households and individuals. The position calls access to food "a basic human need and fundamental right."
"The Academy has made food insecurity a priority for nearly 100 years," said registered dietitian nutritionist Diane Heller, immediate past chair of the Academy's Foundation. "We believe all children have the right to flourish, to have consistent access to food and to live healthy, active lives. We must help increase awareness of food insecurity while also providing evidence-based solutions to reducing obesity."
"Food insecurity essentially means that, because of insufficient money or other resources within a household, there is uncertainty of having enough food to meet the needs of all its members," Heller said. "Of the 315 million people living in the United States, nearly 50 million – including almost 16 million children – were food-insecure in 2012. These figures have increased substantially in the past two decades."
The Kids Eat Right program provides vital nutrition education resources to communities, leaders and parents. Academy members are utilizing Kids Eat Right resources to raise awareness of food insecurity in communities across the country and promoting solutions. Academy members, utilizing the "Kids Eat Right Hunger in Our Community: What We Can Do" toolkit, have presented to more than 6,000 teens and adults in recent months about food insecurity and ways to get involved. The Academy and its members are also strong advocates for programs, such as school meal programs and SNAP, which are effective in reducing food insecurity and nourishing children.
"There is confusion and conflicting information when it comes to obesity and food insecurity," Heller said. "Hunger and obesity often occur within the same neighborhoods – even the same families. One in five kids lives in a food-insecure household, meaning their families’ income doesn’t allow for consistent access to food. Meanwhile, a child can look overweight while still being ‘hungry’ for nutrients because limited income leads to a trade-off between food quantity and quality.”
To clarify the tie between hunger and obesity, Kids Eat Right developed the Nourish to Flourish infographic which can be downloaded for free from the Academy’s website.
The Academy has also joined a new nationwide initiative designed to identify game-changing innovations in the field of nutrition and food insecurity. “We are aligning with Feeding America and the National Dairy Council to share expertise and resources, identify new ways of approaching nutrition education and access, and affect the way food-insecure individuals can better nourish themselves and their families,” Heller said.
“When it comes to the hunger-obesity paradox, we will be part of the solution,” Heller said. “One-third of our country’s population is children – but children are 100 percent of our future. Their health today is our country’s wealth tomorrow.”
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation is a 501(c)3 charity devoted exclusively to nutrition and dietetics. It funds scholarships and awards, public awareness and research projects and the Academy strategic initiatives, and is the largest provider of scholarships and awards in the field of dietetics. The Foundation’s mission is advancing public health and nutrition utilizing the expertise of registered dietitians. Visit the Academy Foundation at www.eatright.org/foundation.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at www.eatright.org and the Kids Eat Right website at www.kidseatright.org.