Too hungry to learn: New research provides food for thought

ScienceDaily | 4/9/2019 | Staff
vpp1219 (Posted by) Level 3
The research team investigated inequalities in learning achievements at 12 years by examining test scores. They then looked at whether food insecurity at home at the ages of 5, 8 and 12 was linked to lower test scores at age 12.

Some 47% of children studied had experienced household 'food insecurity' -- including skipping meals, eating less when needed and families not having enough money to put food on the table -- at some stage during the observation period.

% - Families - Study - Insecurity - Food

And 18% of the wealthiest of families in the study had also experienced insecurity, highlighting that food insecurity is not exclusively a matter of poverty.

Food insecurity at all ages hampered learning. The data showed lower vocabulary, reading, maths, local language (Telugu) and English scores in early adolescence.

Children - Food - Insecurity - Age - Food

Children who suffered food insecurity at age 5 or chronic food insecurity had the lowest scores across all outcomes. Early and chronic food insecurity were the most consistent predictor of impaired cognitive skills at 12 years, particularly reading and vocabulary development.

Food insecurity in mid-childhood and early adolescence were associated with impaired ability in maths and English.

Differences - Suggest - Influence - Food - Insecurity

These differences by subject suggest that the influence of food insecurity is not universal throughout childhood.

For subjects such as reading and vocabulary, establishing foundational skills early on is very important. Early life food insecurity may disrupt building these baseline skills.

Subjects - Maths - Level - Level - Food

For subjects such as maths, where learning at one level builds directly upon learning at the previous level, food insecurity at any time may derail current and future learning.

Through lower learning levels, food insecurity during childhood can have ripple effects for future earnings and health, which matters both for individuals and for the economic development of the country overall.

Research - Adolescent - Timing - Persistence - Food

The research, 'Inequalities in adolescent learning: Does the timing and persistence of food insecurity at home matter?'...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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