Newswise — CHICAGO – It may seem like a contradiction, but millions of American children are both hungry and overweight. During Kids Eat Right Month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spotlights the “hungry yet overweight paradox” and ways to ensure children meet their nutrient requirements and maintain a healthy weight.
“Kids Eat Right Month provides us with a valuable opportunity to shed light on one of the most serious social and health issues related to childhood obesity – the ‘hungry yet overweight paradox’ of food insecurity that threatens the health of the nation’s children,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Angela Lemond.
Kids Eat Right Month focuses on the importance of healthful eating and active lifestyles for children and families, featuring expert advice from registered dietitian nutritionists. The Kids Eat Right initiative, created in 2010 by the Academy and its charitable Foundation, offers resources and information for Academy members and the public to encourage nutritious, healthful eating among children and families.
More than one in five kids lives in a food-insecure household, meaning their family’s income doesn’t allow for consistent access to food. “Meanwhile, a child can look overweight while still being hungry for nutrients because limited income leads to a trade-off between food quantity and food quality,” Lemond says.
“Individuals and families experiencing food insecurity often experience periods of time when they have full pantries, followed by periods without. When food is available, many children eat a healthy and steady diet, though some may overeat due to fear of lacking food in the future. When food is not available, children’s diets may be minimal or they may have to skip meals altogether. These wide swings in calorie consumption affect their metabolism and promote fat storage,” Lemond says.
The hungry-overweight paradox leads to serious, long-term health consequences. Children who are food-insecure are more likely to have iron deficiency, asthma, delayed cognitive development, increased stomachaches, headaches, colds and increased fatigue. “To successfully address the hungry-overweight paradox, the Academy supports programs and practices that combat hunger and malnutrition, encourage food security, promote self-sufficiency, educate consumers and health professionals, and are environmentally and economically sustainable,” Lemond says.
“Long-term, lasting solutions to the hungry-overweight paradox must include research, innovative and creative initiatives that show children and adults alike the benefits of good nutrition, and improving access to nutritious food for all people,” she says.
Registered dietitian nutritionists help in developing school and workplace policies, community programs and cooking and shopping strategies for families and individuals. “The Academy and our members are strong advocates for programs that have been proven effective in reducing food insecurity and nourishing children, including school meal programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP,” Lemond says.
All registered dietitians are nutritionists – but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. The Academy’s Board of Directors and Commission on Dietetic Registration have determined that those who hold the credential registered dietitian (RD) may optionally use “registered dietitian nutritionist” (RDN) instead. The two credentials have identical meanings.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatright.org.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation is a 501(c)3 charity devoted exclusively to nutrition and dietetics. It funds scholarships and awards, public awareness and research projects and Academy strategic initiatives, and is the largest provider of scholarships and awards in the field of dietetics. Visit the Academy Foundation at www.eatright.org/foundation.