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Child Poverty: Creating a permanent underclass of stupid, fat, lonely, unhealthy people

April 20, 2009

Child poverty is deeply depressing, especially in this, the richest country in the world. More than 1 in 10 Americans are part of the federal food assistance program. What’s worse is the associated effect of poverty (including poor nutrition) on pre-natal development, as well as the critical brain development period during birth to three years of age.

These are just articles from the beginning of the year:

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Think about this: low-income women are actually more likely to be working mothers, sending their kids to daycare:

What contributes most to a nurturing home environment for three- to five-year-old children of single working mothers? A new study reports that the mother’s education is the most important factor, followed by her employment in jobs that offer either standard daytime hours or some flexibility.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090130104252.htm

Children who convey more meanings with gestures at age 14 months have much larger vocabularies at 54 months than children who convey fewer meanings and are accordingly better prepared for school, according to new research. The research showed that the differences particularly favored children from higher-income families with well-educated parents and may help explain the disadvantages some children from low-income families face upon entering school.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212141145.htm

Preschool children who are securely attached to their mothers form closer friendships in the early grade-school years for a number of reasons, according to a new study.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090217125553.htm

Orphaned chimpanzee infants given special ‘mothering’ by humans are more advanced than the average child at nine months of age. In the first study to examine the effect of different types of care for infant chimpanzees on cognition, researchers found chimpanzees who were given extra emotionally-based care were more cognitively advanced than human infants. Humans overtake chimpanzees in development terms as they grow older but the study sends stark warnings that looking after just an infant’s physical needs is likely to result in a child who is maladjusted, unhappy and under-achieving.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202140437.htm

A study of brain function in young, memory-deficient mice reveals that a stimulating environment improves not only their memory but also the memory of their memory-deficient offspring. If this improvement also occurs in humans, a mother’s youthful experiences may help shape her children’s ability to learn.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090203175335.htm

Children exposed to a multi-year program of music tuition involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers, according to a new study.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090316075843.htm
And who can afford music lessons?

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Let’s make poor kids fat, dumb, and unhappy!

A study of children enrolled at 24 community-based preschool programs finds that preschoolers are inactive for much of their preschool day, with 89 percent of physical activity characterized as sedentary. The study also finds that teachers very rarely encourage children to be more physically active. Based on these findings, there may be more of a need for preschool teachers to organize, model and encourage physical activity.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090206081305.htm

Children with mobility issues, like cerebral palsy and spina bifida, can’t explore the world like other babies, because they can’t crawl or walk. Infant development emerges from the thousands of daily discoveries experienced by babies as they move and explore their worlds.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090204165529.htm

All work and no play may impede learning, health and social development. A large study of shows that school children who receive more recess behave better and are likely to learn more.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090126173835.htm

a lack of opportunities for unstructured, imaginative play can keep children from growing into happy, well-adjusted adults. “Free play,” as scientists call it, is critical for becoming socially adept, coping with stress and building cognitive skills such as problem solving. Research into animal behavior confirms play’s benefits and establishes its evolutionary importance: ultimately, play may provide animals (including humans) with skills that will help them survive and reproduce.
http://rss.sciam.com/click.phdo?i=9c623f83ffd284022dd0ff24f394a061

Less than an hour of daily exercise reduces depressive symptoms and improves self esteem in overweight children.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090318104330.htm

In this study of children aged 8-10, for every additional park located within a half-mile of their home, girls were twice as likely to walk to school. Boys were 60 percent more likely to walk in leisure time.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312114757.htm

And who lives in a neighborhood safe enough to walk to school?

Preschoolers whose parents forced them to clean their plates, ate 41 percent more snacks when at school. Part of this is because preschool snack time was one place where they could regain control of what they ate. Unfortunately, it was for the worse and not the better.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090306103649.htm

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And whose children are more likely to be exposed to lead?

Even low levels of lead found in the blood during early childhood can adversely affect how the child’s cardiovascular system responds to stress and could possibly lead to hypertension later in life
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090417084006.htm

Children with high blood pressure are not as good at complicated, goal-directed tasks, have more working memory problems and are not as adept at planning as their peers without hypertension, according to recent research. If they are both hypertensive and obese, they are also more likely to have anxiety and depression.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090224133028.htm

Research has shown that lead kills neurons (nerve cells), resulting in smaller brains. It has long been hypothesized that such changes in the brain caused by childhood lead exposure may be behind a higher incidence of poor cognitive performance and criminal behavior. And although it is difficult to disentangle the confounding effects of race, class and economics, a recent study by Kim Dietrich, a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati, found that individuals who suffered from the highest lead exposure as children had the smallest brain sizes–as well as the most arrests. [More]
http://rss.sciam.com/click.phdo?i=3648fc9dfb1e0bdaf79e8f93e8b72a2e

Children who live in homes with vinyl floors, which can emit chemicals called phthalates, are more likely to have autism, according to research by Swedish and U.S. scientists published Monday.

And who can afford not to have vinyl floors?!

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High-school kids who watch too much TV are likely to have bad eating habits five years in the future. A new study followed almost 2000 high- and middle-school children and found that TV viewing times predict a poor diet in the future.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090129213436.htm

TV viewing affects brain development and the risk of childhood obesity.
http://www.consumerreports.org/health/medical-conditions-treatments/6-ways-to-help-your-child-maintain-a-healthy-weight/overview/6-ways-to-help-your-child-maintain-a-healthy-weight.htm

A new study by psychologists has found that TV ratings don’t accurately reflect the aggressive content found in shows popular among children — even cartoons.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090303194004.htm

Factors identified early in childhood could predict obesity in the teen years and beyond, and researchers continue to assess methods to prevent and treat excess weight gain and its consequences in children and teens, according to several new articles.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090406192343.htm

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Let’s stress out poor mothers who will then gain weight, increasing the children’s weight.

Putting food on the table, struggling with unemployment and meeting the relentless needs of young children all contribute to household stress. Now, a new study finds that these pressures also increase the possibility that a mother will be obese.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090206170631.htm

When Soda is Cheaper Than Water:
ABC’s Diane Sawyer special on Appalachia …“Cheaper than water in some areas, it’s the preferred beverage for kids, and it’s absolutely wreaking havoc on their dental health.”

Scientists have built on the suggested link between the consumption of fructose and increased food intake, which may contribute to a high incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090325091811.htm

http://www.ethicurean.com/2009/03/19/digest-news-77/
Obesity is cheap: “In the no-shit department, a study finds that price affects people’s food choices. It goes so far as to suggest that policies that make healthy food less expensive and unhealthy food costly (just the opposite of our current food and farm policies) could curb obesity.” (Milbank Quarterly via EurekAlert)

Women in strained marriages are more likely to feel depressed and suffer high blood pressure, obesity and other signs of “metabolic syndrome,” a group of risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, psychologists found. The same study found men in strained marriages also are more likely to feel depressed, yet — unlike women — do not face an increased risk of metabolic syndrome.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305080143.htm

from the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, shows that snacking on foods with a high glycaemic index like white bread and chocolate during the later stages of pregnancy may increase the likelihood of obesity in the offspring (in sheep).

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Let’s create situations where children are abused and neglected, while we’re at it!

Mothers with many negative thoughts and feelings are more likely to give their children unhealthy food, according to a study by researchers in Norway.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090403103946.htm

Researchers examined the relationship of binge drinking with the co-occurence of such specific childhood maltreatments as neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse in combination and separately on adolescents. The effects of these adverse maltreatments increase an individual’s risk for alcohol problems in adolescence.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090303161315.htm

Researchers have for the first time studied whether smoking during pregnancy can directly make children more likely to behave antisocially. The unique study examined the records of 779 children born by in-vitro fertilization whose prenatal environment was provided by either a related mother or an unrelated mother.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174938.htm

And guess who is more likely to smoke?

A deeply depressing Reuters article reports that the economic crisis has resulted in a dramatic rise in child abuse. Boston Children’s Hospital, which typically handles 1,500 cases per year, recorded 1,800 in 2008. And 2009 may turn out to be even worse. “In the last three months we have twice as many severe inflicted injury cases as we did in the three months the previous year,” said Allison Scobie, program director of the Child Protection Team at the hospital.
http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/04/16/child_abuse/index.html

So poor children will self-soothe with food, just like mom and dad:

Children who ate fast food and drank soft drinks were more likely to be overweight, but they were also less likely to be unhappy. The analysis also highlighted a number of factors influencing children’s body weight, eating patterns and happiness. For example, mothers’ consumption of fast food and soft drinks predicted her child’s eating habits. Those children who ate fast food were more likely to also consume soft drinks. Children from lower income households were more likely to have unhealthy dietary habits and be overweight or obese.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090414085325.htm

Baby’s Stress Inherited from the Parents
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=is-babys-stress-inherited

Stressful experiences in early childhood can have long-lasting impacts on kids’ health that persist well beyond the resolution of the situation.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090126173606.htm

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And it’s a short generational thing:

Researchers have found that adolescents are more likely to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day if their parents do. Contrarily, teens whose parents eat fast food or drink soda are more likely to do the same.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209125824.htm

A new analysis of almost one million people from around the world has shown that obesity can trim years off life expectancy. Moderate obesity, which is now common, reduces life expectancy by about 3 years, and that severe obesity, which is still uncommon, can shorten a person’s life by 10 years. This 10 year loss is equal to the effects of lifelong smoking.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090319224823.htm

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School Foods in Particular Should be Free of Controversial Colorings, Says CSPI
WASHINGTON—Maryland may become the first state in the country to protect children—and their families—from Red 40, Yellow 5, and other artificial food dyes that worsen hyperactivity and other behavior problems in some children. One bill introduced by Senator Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County) would require warning labels on foods that contain the dyes and then prohibit their use after 2012, and another bill would prohibit dyed foods in Maryland schools.
Article:
http://cspinet.org/new/200902061.html

Children whose teachers rated them as more impulsive in kindergarten appear more likely to begin gambling behaviors by the sixth grade, according to a new report.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302182958.htm

Young children who do not display an ability to regulate their behavior or to delay gratification in exchange for a larger reward appear predisposed to gain extra weight by their preteen years, according to two new articles.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090406192338.htm

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Here’s another thought:
http://diabetesupdate.blogspot.com/2009/04/rise-in-toddler-obesity-points-to.html
Pregnant women drink tap water that contains detectable amounts of SSRI antidepressants, which are well known to cause endocrine disruptions leading to obesity. They eat food from cans lined in bisphenol A, known to cause obesity in animals exposed to it as fetuses.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/11/AR2007031100918.html

They breathe air filled with chemical breakdown products from factories. They eat vegetables imported from third world countries grown with endocrine disrupting pesticides. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to live in a neighborhood contaminated with industrial runoff. But as so many of us with diabetes have learned, when metabolic regulatory systems are not working properly, one of the first symptoms is abnormal appetite. And this kind of metabolic dysregulation, apparently from birth onward, is exactly which is what we are seeing in the 20% of four year old children found to be obese. It is also why were are seeing an increasing number of young children being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes before age 6 though we know that it takes a decade or more for adults to develop the kind of diabetes associated with obesity. These children are not getting diabetes because they are making poor choices. They are developing diabetes (and the obesity that comes along with the rampant hunger associated with metabolic failure) because they are being born with genetic damage.

In three new studies researchers provide compelling evidence of how low levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) alter the way brain cells develop. Researchers explain the relationship between PCB exposure, and neurodevelopmental disorders in children. Together, the studies make a compelling case for the mechanism behind PCBs’ harmful effects on human neurological development.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090413204546.htm

Mental deficiency is the most frequently occurring, yet least understood handicap in children. Even a mild form can lead to social isolation, bullying and require assistance with simple tasks. The most common variety, non-syndromic mental deficiency (NSMD), is defined as affecting an otherwise normal looking child. With few physical clues in affected children to point researchers towards candidates to study, progress in identifying genetic causes of NSMD has been very slow. Yet that is beginning to change. Geneticists have now identified mutations in a novel gene in children with NSMD.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090204174257.htm

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Poor and Fat

http://www.lavidalocavore.org/diary/1397/mistaken-causality
Childhood obesity prevalence differs among racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.. I think that’s a mischaracterization. I think if you looked at it, there are disparities in obesity between children of rich families and children of poor families. And THAT is most likely what determines where they eat, what they eat, how often they get healthy meals vs. fast food, whether or not their parents can afford to sign them up for local sports teams or summer camps where they might exercise, etc.
Of course, if you look at who in this country is rich and who is poor, you’ll see disparities due to race. But I think it’s important to be clear about causality. Poverty makes you more likely to be fat. Being a minority makes you more likely to be poor. Therefore, being a minority makes you more likely to be fat.
However, simply assuming race corresponds to prevalence of childhood obesity might lead to an assumption that certain races are more genetically predetermined to obesity. But consider this: “Hispanic” is not a genetic classification – it’s based on language. There’s a very diverse pool of genes among people who we call “Hispanic.” There’s also quite a bit of genetic diversity among those we call “black” because we lump many people born to mixed couples together by calling them all black (Barack Obama, for example).

24 percent of children in the United States between the ages of 2 and 5 are overweight, and 12 percent classify as obese.
http://www.cbc.ca/cp/HealthScout/090312/6031213AU.html

With 17 percent of US children between ages 2 and 19 classified as obese, new research shows that parents may not be recognizing their own children’s risk factors. A new study shows that parents are likely to misperceive their child’s weight — especially those parents who are overweight themselves.
Article:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090318113612.htm

As for

http://www.lavidalocavore.org/showDiary.do?diaryId=1227
Dr. David Paige:

He said today 18% of the population of children is living below the poverty line – and that number rises to 21% when you look at children under 5 – and higher if you look at Hispanics, African Americans, and children in female-headed households. He said over 12 million children are food insecure and the number will escalate in the current economy.He said 75% of WIC enrollees are below poverty level, so WIC is very good at reaching this population. In general, poverty results in poor health. He said 60% of pregnant women who enter the WIC program have nutritional problem and these affect the well-being of the baby. WIC has been successful at increasing birthrate and decreasing pre-term birth. He said a review by GAO that WIC is cost effective. He said that even 1 less day of a hospital stay or 1 or 2 less nights in the NICU for babies will more than pay back the cost of the WIC program.
He said the U.S. has bad infant mortality numbers for an industrialized country, and reducing pre-term birth and underweight babies will reduce this. Then he said we need to increase enrollment in WIC. Next he addressed obesity. We need to think of obesity as poverty-induced. Not that obesity is limited to that group but this is an important population to look at because poor communities have bad availability of supermarkets and low income people choose calorie dense foods.

Then he spoke about the benefits of breastfeeding. WIC is dedicated to trying to improve the number of individuals who elect to breastfeed. However, in lower economic tiers, breastfeeding is very difficult.

 

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