The New Way That Pediatricians Will Look Out for Hungry Kids – The Atlantic
The academy also said pediatricians should familiarize themselves with local food banks, food-stamp programs, and free-lunch programs in order to help families who report not being able to afford enough food.
â€œThe link between good nutrition and health is absolute,â€ Sandra Hassink, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in an interview. â€œChildren with food insecurity have more abdominal pain, more illnesses, more trouble concentrating, more trouble in schools.â€
Sarah Jane Schwarzenberg, the director of pediatric gastroenterology at the
University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital and one of the lead authors of the AAPâ€™s new policy statement, said pediatricians could ask families about their food needs during well-child visits or other appointments that arenâ€™t related to a specific, stressful ailment. The goal is to spur needy families, who are sometimes ashamed of their predicaments, to say something.
Otherwise, Schwarzenberg said, â€œyou might not think your pediatrician would be interested. They might be actively covering up the fact that their financial situation has changed.â€
The move represents the academyâ€™s focus on poverty as an underpinning factor in child health. Last year, the group recommended that its members tell parents to read aloud to their children from birthâ€”a moved aimed at closing the so-called â€œword gapâ€ between rich and poor children.
In an interview before a speech at the AAP conference Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said it helps that almost every parent already has a bond with their childâ€™s doctor. â€œI don’t know of another group who’s more trusted than in society today than a pediatrician,â€ he said.