Nutrition & Child Development | No Kid Hungry | End Child Hunger in America

Food is fuel. Without it, a child can’t live up to her full potential.

The link between nutrition and overall health and well-being is indisputable.

Research conducted by Children’s HealthWatch and reported on by Feeding America [Child Food Insecurity: The Economic Impact on Our Nation] finds strong ties to nutrition and overall health and well-being:

  • Food-insecure children are 90% more likely to have their overall health reported as “fair/poor” rather than “excellent/good” than kids from food-secure homes.
  • Food insecurity is linked to increased hospitalizations, developmental problems, headaches, stomachaches and even colds.
  • When children eat breakfast, they tend to consume more nutrients and experience lower obesity rates.
  • Hunger in childhood has been linked to significant health problems in adulthood.

Well-fed kids tend to be healthier overall:

  • Healthier Overall: Food-insecure kids are 90% more likely to have their overall health reported as “fair/poor” rather than “excellent/good” than kids from food secure homes. [Child Food Insecurity: The Economic Impact on Our Nation]
  • More Vitamins: Children who consume breakfast at school tend to have significantly higher daily intakes of energy and protein and are more likely to obtain two-thirds of the RDA for vitamins A, E, D, and B6, as well as other minerals, than children who did not eat school breakfast. [National Institutes of Health (NIH)]

Well-fed kids tend to be sick less often:

Well-fed kids...

  • Have Fewer Developmental Problems: Young children from food-insecure households are two-thirds more likely to be at risk of developmental problems than those from households with enough to eat. [National Institutes of Health (NIH)]
  • Have Lower Obesity Rates: Girls from food-insecure households are significantly less likely to become overweight (68 percent) if they participate in federal nutrition programs like the school lunch and breakfast programs. [American Medical Association (AMA)]

Kids are lacking proper nutrition.

The new food guidance icon, “MyPlate,” developed by the United States Department of Agriculture, illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet using a familiar image—a place setting for a meal.

Surveys among children two and older show that kids aren’t eating the way MyPlate advises. They are eating too few fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. It also shows that they are consuming too many sweetened beverages and foods that are high in saturated fat and sodium.

Taking steps to ensure that children receive a balanced diet of healthy foods where they live, learn, and play lays a strong foundation for present and future health.


If you want to dig deeper: Our Childhood Hunger Resources page includes key facts and findings as well as links to relevant articles, organizations and tools to help you learn more. You can also visit our Center for Best Practices to learn more about each of these key hunger issue areas.