ITHACA, N.Y. -- Ten million Americans, including almost 4 million children,don't get enough to eat, according to a new study from Cornell Universityand the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention.
Employment is no guarantee of being well fed: More than half of the 4percent of Americans who say they are sometimes or often hungry live inhouseholds in which at least one person has a job.
"Food insufficiency is not limited to the unemployed or to single-motherfamilies," says study lead author Katherine Alaimo, a doctoral candidate innutritional sciences at Cornell University and a former nutritionist atNCHS. "Although families with single mothers are at higher risk for havinginadequate food, more Americans who don't have enough to eat live infamilies of married couples with children than in other types of families."
Alaimo, together with Christine Olson, her advisor and Cornell professor ofnutritional sciences; Cornell statistician Edward Frongillo; and RonetteBriefel of the NCHS, published their study in the March issue of the"American Journal of Public Health" (Vol. 88, No. 3).
Americans most at risk for not having enough to eat are children and thepoor, say the study's authors. About 6 percent of children and 14 percentof America's low-income population reported that they don't have enoughfood to eat.
"Food insufficiency is still a considerable problem in this country and isnot limited to very low-income persons, specific racial/ethnic groups,certain family types or the unemployed," Alaimo says.
Among those Americans who reported not having enough to eat in the survey were:
-- 4.5 million non-Hispanic whites;
-- 2.4 million non-Hispanic blacks;
-- 2.4 million Mexican Americans, or one-quarter of the low-income MexicanAmerican population;
-- People without health insurance : Twice as many as Americans withoutinsurance say they are going hungry as those with insurance.
"Many low-income, uninsured Americans may be making the choice betweenpaying for health care and paying for food," Alaimo points out.
Most of those in the survey who reported food shortages said the primaryreasons were lack of money, food stamps or WIC (the Special SupplementalNutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) vouchers; about 9percent also blamed inadequate transportation.
In examining the reports of food shortages, the researchers considered anumber of factors, including race, ethnicity, age, family size and income,education and whether the head of the family was employed.
The new findings come from the Third National Health and NutritionExamination Survey (NHANES III), which was conducted by the NCHS. Thissurvey is the most comprehensive health examination survey in the U.S., andwas conducted from 1988 to 1994. More than 30,000 Americans were selectedfrom civilian, non-institutionalized and non-homeless populations. Thesurvey included standardized physical examinations, laboratory tests anddietary and health interviews. In addition to data on food insufficiency,the survey collected data on dietary patterns, food and nutrient intake aswell as such nutrition-related information as serum cholesterol levels andobesity.
Materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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