Pediatricians claim climate change poses a health threat to children as it affects food security for around 7.9 million kids in the U.S. alone. This is a major issue that may hinder the healthy development of children and doctors are now paying more attention than ever to their young patient’s diets.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is stressing the importance of the process of checking food insecurity when assessing a patient’s general health in an effort to lower child hunger. Doctors have also asked for politicians to aid the cause by taking action on the problem of climate change.
A healthy diet is essential for children to obtain sufficient nutrients for healthy growth and children who do not benefit from an adequate nutrient intake may suffer from both emotional and mental developmental issues during their teenage years.
In addition to a deficient growth, children who do not benefit from a healthy, well balanced diet may be more susceptible to illness and might have a slower and longer recovery. They are also exposed to a higher risk of developing chronic illnesses.
However, pediatricians may be facing an uphill battle when trying to diagnose malnutrition as the symptoms and signs of an improper food intake might not always be apparent at first glance. This problem might be even more difficult to identify and diagnose as children and parents may not find the topic easy to digest or to discuss with their physician.
Besides the communication issues that may appear when trying to bring up food insecurity in general during a doctor’s appointment, there is also a second problem when trying to identify malnutrition. Children might also be affected when consuming food that, despite being sufficient in quantity, has little nutritional value.
In other words, children might not have enough food to eat at home or might have an improper diet, in which they consume large quantities of processed food such as junk food, and not enough fruits and vegetables to guarantee a proper intake of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
The pediatric group that drew attention to this issue also stated that climate change has facilitated the growth of infectious diseases such as malaria, Lyme disease or dengue fever and that children with lower immunity are more likely to be affected by such viruses as well.
In the same statement that the group released, they not only asked for cooperation between all the entities responsible for controlling and remedying climate change, but also provided guide lines on how to ensure children’s health and how to best protect them from the negative effects of this global issue.
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