Texas has a child nutrition problem with two faces – obesity and hunger. These twin problems are being fought in the same low-income neighborhoods, and often in the same families. Both problems are “flip sides” of the same coin: a lack of healthy food in the home. Texas food banks and Kids Cafes are a direct source of food for many of these children. Utilizing food banks to distribute healthy foods will have the dual effect of reducing childhood hunger and increasing childhood health in Texas.
1) Texas has a child nutrition problem with two faces – obesity and hunger.
· 19.1% of Texas children are medically obese, ranking sixth among states with the highest child obesity rates[i].
· Texas schoolchildren also suffer from high rates of overweight[ii].
· As these children become adults, they will raise the number of obese Texas adults to 46.8% by 2025. This will lower productivity and increase health care costs that will contribute to a statewide cost to employers equaling $3.3 billion annually[v],[vi].
· 23.7% of Texas children are food insecure, living in households without enough food[vii].
· As these children become adults, they will exhibit lowered productivity and increased health care costs, contributing to a statewide cost of hunger equaling $9.8 billion annually[xiii].
2) These twin problems are being fought in the same low-income neighborhoods, and often in the same families.
a. Poverty is acknowledged as a “high-risk factor” for obesity in Texas youth[xiv].
b. Among Texas school districts, hunger and lack of fitness are both associated with higher poverty rates[xv].
c. Among Texas schoolchildren, Hispanic and African-American children are most likely to suffer from both hunger and overweight[xvi].
d. Nationally, the highest obesity rates occur among the highest poverty groups[xvii].
3) Both problems are “flip sides” of the same coin: a lack of healthy food in the home.
a. 31% of low-income Texans report being unable to feed their children balanced meals “sometimes” or “often”[xxiii]
b. Low income families consume less fresh produce, which is associated with healthier weight and diet outcomes[xxiv].
d. Such strategies make financial sense – energy-dense junk foods cost an average of $1.76 per 1,000 calories, while nutritious, fresh, unprocessed foods cost $18.16 per 1,000 calories[xxvii].
e. In recent years, the cost of nutritious foods has risen faster than the price of junk food, pushing these items further out of the reach of low-income households[xxviii].
g. The annual amount spent on nutritious foods (fruits, vegetables & protein) by Texas families making $9,000 a year is $794; the average Texas household spends $1,260 – a gap of $466.
4) Texas food banks are a direct source of food for many of these children.
a. 33% of all clients served by Texas food banks are children, equaling more than 681,000 children served annually[xxxi].
b. 36% of all households served by Texas food banks include at least one child[xxxii].
c. Texas food banks supply 80% of the food distributed by the majority of 3,600 agencies statewide[xxxiii], nearly all of which are directly located in low-income neighborhoods or rural communities.
d. Special programs operated by Texas Food Banks (backpack programs, Kids Cafes) offer proven venues for attracting and feeding low-income children.
e. State-subsidized programs like school meals and summer feeding programs typically only provide balanced nutrition to children during breakfast and lunch, and in a very limited fashion in the summer.
5) Utilizing food banks to distribute healthy foods with have the dual effect of reducing childhood hunger and increasing childhood health in Texas.
a. Cost of bringing food bank families’ diets up to the level of average Texans = # of families served[xxxiv] X 36% X $466
b. The most effective public policy interventions to mitigate both obesity and hunger involve the direct distribution of healthy food or food-purchasing power[xxxv].
c. Leveraging the buying power, efficiency, community trust, and reach into every county of the Texas food banks is sound public policy.
[ii] 2004. Holscher, D., et. al. “Measuring the Prevalence of Overweight in Texas Schoolchildren.” American Journal of Public Health. 2004 June; 94(6): 1002.
[iii] 2008. Data & press release. Texas Education Agency, http://www.tea.state.tx.us/press/08fitnessresults.pdf.
[iv] 2007. Perez, A., et. al. “Differences in Food Consumption and Meal Patterns in Texas School Children by Grade.” Preventing Chronic Disease. 2007 April; 4(2): A23.
[v] 2007. Combs, S. “Counting Costs & Calories.”
[vi] 2006. “Texas Obesity Policy Portfolio.” TX DSHS, http://dshs.state.tx.us/cpi/documents/obesityportfolio.pdf.
[vii] 2008. 2006 Current Population Survey data calculated by TFBN.
[viii] 2008. Rose-Jacobs, R., et. al. “Household food insecurity: Associations with at-risk infant and toddler development.” Pediatrics 2008; 121:65-72.
[ix] 2003. Stormer A and Harrison GG. “Does household food insecurity affect cognitive and social development of kindergarteners?” California Center for Population Research, University of California—Los Angeles, Nov. 2003.
[x] 2004. Cook JT, Frank DA, Berkowitz C, et al. “Food Insecurity is Associated with Adverse Health Outcomes Among Human Infants and Toddlers.” Journal of Nutrition. 2004; 134:1432-1438.
[xi] 2006. Skalicky A, Meyers A, Adams W, et al. Child Food Insecurity and Iron Deficiency Anemia in Low-Income Infants and Toddlers in the United States. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2006;10(2):177-185.
[xii] 1998. Kleinman, R., et. al. “Hunger in Children in the United States: Potential Behavioral and Emotional Correlates.” Pediatrics, Vol. 101 No. 1 January 1998, p. e3.
[xiii] 2007. Brown, L. “The Economic Cost of Domestic Hunger.” Sodexho Foundation, http://www.helpstophunger.org/economic_cost_of_hunger.asp.
[xiv] 2008. Castellon, M. “The Economics of Obesity in Texas: One Year Later.” Fiscal Notes, 5/08, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, http://www.window.state.tx.us/comptrol/fnotes/fn0805/obesity.html.
[xv] 2008. Texas Education Agency, Ibid.
[xvi] 2004. Holscher, D., et. al. Ibid.
[xvii] 2004. Drewnowski, A. & Spector, SE. “Poverty and obesity: the role of energy density and energy costs.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004;79:6 –16, http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/reprint/79/1/6.pdf.
[xviii] 2001. Townsend, M., et. al. “Food Insecurity Is Positively Related to Overweight in Women.” Journal of Nutrition. 2001;131:1738-1745.
[xix] 1999. Olson, C. “Nutrition and Health Outcomes Associated with Food Insecurity and Hunger.” Journal of Nutrition. 1999;129:521-524.
[xx] 2003. Jimenez-Cruz, A, et. al. “Obesity and hunger among Mexican-Indian migrant children on the US–Mexico border.” International Journal of Obesity (2003) 27, 740–747.
[xxi] 2002. “Food Insufficiency and Prevalence of Overweight Among Adult Women.” Nutrition Insights, USDA CNPP, http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/NutritionInsights/Insight26.pdf.
[xxii] 2005. Lin, B. “Nutrition and Health Characteristics of Low-Income Populations: Body Weight Status.” USDA Economic Research Service, http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aib796/aib796-3/aib796-3.pdf.
[xxiii] 2008. 2006 Current Population Survey data calculated by TFBN.
[xxiv] 2005. Guthrie, J., et.al. “Understanding Economic and Behavioral Influences on Fruit and Vegetable Choices.” Amber Waves, 4/05, USDA Economic Research Service, http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/April05/Features/FruitAndVegChoices.htm.
[xxv] 2007. Parker, S., et. al. “Food Choices and Coping Strategies During Periods of Perceived Food Shortage: Perspectives from Four Racial/Ethnic Groups.” Journal of Extension, Oct. 2007, 45(5), http://www.joe.org/joe/2007october/a6.shtml.
[xxvi] 2004. Drewnowski, A. & Spector, SE. Ibid.
[xxvii] 2007. Monsivais, P. & Drewnowski, A. “The Rising Cost of Low-Energy-Density Foods.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 107(12): 2071-2076.
[xxviii] 2007. Monsivais, P. & Drewnowski, A. Ibid.
[xxix] 2006. “Hunger In America 2006: State Report Prepared for Texas.” Mathematica, Inc., http://tashfb.org/Hunger%20in%20America%202006%20Texas%20Report.pdf.
[xxxi] 2006. Mathematica, Inc. Ibid.
[xxxii] 2008. Hunger In America 2006 data calculated by TFBN.
[xxxiii] 2008. Internal TFBN data.
[xxxiv] 2008. TEFAP data collected by TFBN.
[xxxv] 2006. TX DSHS. Ibid.