Pediatricians at Boston Medical Center (BMC) warn that the Republican proposed cuts to the food stamp program would hurt children’s long-term health.
Doctors found that the youngest Americans and their families are at the highest risk for food insecurity if the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is threatened.
“SNAP acts as a vaccine against food insecurity and hunger,” lead author in the study Deborah Frank, MD, Director of the Grow Clinic for Children at BMC wrote in last week’s issue of Lancet. “Our research consortium, Children’s HealthWatch, has for more than a decade accumulated data on the impacts of food insecurity and interventions to decrease food insecurity among low-income babies and young children.”
The Republican dominated House of Representatives approved a measure to cut $3.8 million low-income Americans from SNAP in 2014, and another 3 million people each year over the next decade.
"Infants and young children in the first three years of life, the most critical period for the growth of the body and brain, are the most physiologically vulnerable to lasting ill effects of food insecurity on health and learning,” Frank said. “Our research, and that of many others, has convinced us that food insecurity - which affects approximately 16 million U.S. children (21.6 percent) - is one of the greatest public health threats that our nation faces.”
Researchers found that food insecurity is tied to low birth weight. SNAP benefits are associated with lowering the risk of obesity, anemia, poor health, developmental delays, hospitalization for failure to thrive, low academic test scores, and reports for child abuse or neglect in households with children, according to Raw Story.
“SNAP is the most important and effective public health program we have for reducing the health impacts of food insecurity,” Frank added.
"Scientific evidence shows that SNAP is a wise investment in the brains and bodies of American children, an investment that should be increased, not curtailed.”