Health Concerns of Pre-School Aged Children of Low Socioeconomic Status: Poor Nutrition Children who live in poverty face many mental and physical health problems: “higher mortality rate due to infections, dental caries, chronic ear infections, mental retardation, learning disabilities, and poor school performance” (Shah, Kahan, & Krauser, 1987, p. 485). One of the reasons for these problems appears to be the basic necessities of a human being which is adequate nutritious food.
In a 2001 article, Alaimo studied the impact of food insufficiency and health problems among US preschool and school aged children. “One study, the Community Childhood Hunger Identification Project, conducted from 1992 through 1994, showed that poor hungry children were more likely than poor but not hungry children to suffer from health problems such as frequent colds, ear infections, anemia, asthma, and frequent headaches” (Alaimo, 2001, p. 781).
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Children who don’t receive adequate nutrition essential for their growth are most likely to also have weight issues like obesity which could lead to health problems. This is usually because “children of low income families are usually fed lower quality diets, which consists of more refined carbohydrates and fewer meats, fruits, and vegetables” (Shah et al. , 1987, p. 486). There also seems to be a correlation between lack of knowledge of the parts of the parents and types of food selection.
Most of the parents of these children are likely to be single parent that are less likely to have graduated from high school and more likely to be an adolescent (Miller et al, 2008, p. 554). As a result, the parents are likely to buy food that costs less without paying much attention to their growing child’s needs. Another important factor might be that “grocery stores in poor neighborhoods usually have a limited selection and high prices” (Shah et al. , 1987, p. 486).
Also grocery stores might not carry fruits and vegetables and have more canned or frozen foods. Consequently the parents might have to travel further than a middle or upper class family to find meat, fresh fruits, and vegetables, which results in poor diet because lower income family usually lack transportation. This is evident in neighborhoods like Sunnydale and Alemany in San Francisco where there are no grocery stores for miles. Therefore the parents might just choose from the selection available at the closer store due to convenience.
Furthermore these neighborhoods usually have fast food chains like McDonalds or Burger King, which again perpetuates the problem of not eating healthy. Obviously adverse consequences are associated with preschool and school aged children not having nutritious food to eat and their overall health problems. Miller et al. (2008) suggests that a solution to this problem might be screening done at primary care pediatric settings to identify hungry and food insecure families and connecting these families to relevant food resources since many families were under utilizing these resources. We recommend ensuring that a primary care practice has access to outreach workers and/or social workers as well as information on local food resources as part of implementing a screening protocol within their practices” (Miller et al. , 2008, p. 558). However the screening is just the beginning of the process, teaching the parents how to buy food and making those food choices available to them might be more of a challenge. This will most certainly require lots of teaching and also a commitment from the parents.
According to Jayne Garcia of San Francisco Head Start Program, the children who they serve receive 2 meals a day: breakfast and lunch. They work closely with a register dietitian so they can ensure that children’s nutritional needs are being met by serving fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and milk products in their meals. However, not all children are fortunate to have a great program like Head Start so child health policy needs to be made to ensure that the children in America are adequately fed is only a humane thing to do.