Saturday, April 10, 2004

The concentration of wealth and hunger

In last week's Parade magazine, the cover story was about hunger in America. The article contains a number of remarkable statistics:
  • 13 million children in America are classified as "food insecure" by the Department of Agriculture. [According to this USDA report, food security means "access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members."]
  • When you consider that there are approximately 61 million children in the United States between the ages of 1 and 14 in America [ref], it means that one out of every five children in America is hungry. In states like Oregon the number is higher. "Oregon has one of the nation's highest rates of child hunger. A quarter of the state's children face food insecurity."
  • "Like many of America's emergency medical providers, Dr. Bowen says he is seeing an increase in the number of children suffering from the medical effects of malnutrition, called "failure to thrive" (FTT). These children have trouble concentrating, are unusually vulnerable to illness and suffer developmentally."
Keep in mind that this is what it is like in the richest nation on earth. For poorer nations it is much, much worse.

It is also fascinating that we are hearing so much in the news right now about overweight children. This is a problem, yes, but according to the surgeon general, it is a problem that affects only 13% or so of children. Why would we be hearing this extraordinary amount of news about overweight children, but almost nothing about hungry children in America?


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