New findings about child nutrition and cognitive development indicate that undernourished children are typically fatigued and uninterested in their social environments. Such children are less likely to establish relationships or to explore and learn from their surroundings. Undernourished children are also more susceptible to illness and, thus, more likely to be absent from school. These factors result in a loss of opportunities for undernourished children and in a loss of contributions to society. An overview of research reveals that children in the United States suffer a mild to moderate degree of malnourishment associated with poverty. A combination of environmental insults and undernutrition has been shown to result in growth retardation and developmental delays. Unless irreparable physiological damage has occurred, improvements in environment and nutrition can rectify the developmental effects to which a young child is exposed. Nutrition programs such as the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the School Breakfast Program, the School Lunch Program, the Summer Food Service Program and the Food Stamp Program play key roles in safeguarding the health and cognitive develop of children who are at risk for undernutrition. Addition benefits provided by these programs include savings in medical costs and savings in special education programs. (VL)
Food Stamp Program; School Lunch Program; Women Infants Children Supplemental Food Program
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Tufts Univ., Medford, MA. Center on Hunger, Poverty and Nutrition Policy.
New York Times Foundation, NY.; Boston Globe Foundation, MA.; Hasbro Children's Foundation, New York, NY.; Kraft General Foods Foundation, Glenview, IL.; Ford Foundation, New York, NY.