What Does Malnutrition Look Like in the US?
September is Malnutrition Awareness Month— Statistics and Prevention Options for Food Insecurity Malnutrition
Food insecurity is one of the many causes of Malnutrition in households across the United States. 1 in 10 U.S. households with children struggle with food insecurity. Food insecurity is not having the access to nutrient-dense, quality foods or the inability to obtain sufficient food for any reason.
Did you know food insecurity malnutrition can lead to undernutrition or overnutrition? Malnutrition is simply the physical state of unbalanced nutrition. Malnutrition in the population comes in all shapes and sizes. The person may appear thin, normal, or overweight. You cannot always tell by looking at someone if they are malnourished from food insecurity.
The quality of food that low-income households are able to obtain determines their physical state of nutrition. The food options that are available to populations with low socioeconomic status tend to be high in fat, sodium, and sugar. So, what can we do as a community to give back and prevent food insecurity malnutrition from happening to children and adults?
As a community we can come together to make a difference! A few ideas to spread awareness and to get you started on fighting child and adult malnutrition are the following:
- 1.Support Nutrition Assistance Programs and Advocate for their Funding
- There are many nutrition assistance programs available to provide food to disadvantaged populations such as Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Assistance Program (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Meals on Wheels, Summer Food Service Program, to name a few. For these programs to accomplish their goals, we need to show our support by electing officials who want to solve food insecurity. Write to your legislator about your concerns— it can make a huge impact!
- 2.Donate fresh produce, whole grains, and nutrient-dense foods to food shelves
- The next time you donate food to a food shelf or a food drive, try to pick foods low in sodium and fat (low sodium canned beans and vegetables are a great option). Food shelves also accept perishable foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. For example, the next time you are at the grocery store and see BOGO for strawberries, donate one of the packages to a food shelf and keep one for yourself.
- 3.Support farmer's markets to help eliminate food deserts
- Farmer's Markets are terrific for providing the community with produce at an affordable price. WIC and SNAP participants are eligible to purchase food from the market. Make a routine of visiting the local Saturday's Farmer's Market to support the access to locally produced food.Downtown St. Pete has a market available October-May.
There are numerous ways for the community to offer their services to preventing food insecurity malnutrition. You, too, can be an advocate for food insecure children and adults across the U.S. Try to implement one of these prevention strategies to solve malnutrition in your community. To learn more about Malnutrition, visit https://sm.eatright.org/SpotlightOnMalnutrition.
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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2019). Spotlight on Malnutrition Media Materials. Retrieved from: https://www.eatrightpro.org/media/multimedia-news-center/spotlight-on-malnutrition-media-materials
United States Department of Agriculture. USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs. Retrieved from: https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/usda-nutrition-assistance-programs