Aussie country kids worried about getting enough food to eat
A new study has found one in five children living in regional or remote Western Australia are worried about getting enough food to eat.
Researchers surveyed more than 200 children in regional and remote WA to find 21.2 per cent are worried that food will run out before their family will receive money to purchase more.
Almost one in ten said they have eaten less because their family did not have enough money to buy food. Approximately 14 per cent said their meals only contained cheap low quality food.
Lead researcher, Dr Stephanie Godrich, said the research was the first in Australia to measure food insecurity as reported by children.
“Previous Australian studies looking at food insecurity have surveyed parents or caregivers rather than their children,” Dr Godrich said.
“Caregivers have reported feeling ashamed of their inability to feed their family which may have resulted in an underreporting of food insecurity in previous studies.
“By gathering this data directly from children we have been able to create a clearer picture of the problem of food insecurity in regional and remote WA.”
Researchers said they came across some unexpected findings, discovering children living in medium socioeconomic situations were more likely to have a lack of access to food than those in low socioeconomic situations.
“This suggests that some of the families in these medium SES areas may not be eligible for the types of financial assistance or may believe that they do not need it,” Dr Godrich said.
“What this tells us is that this is a systemic problem in regional and remote WA and we need government action to address it.”
Action urgently needed
Dr Godrich said action is urgently needed to address lack of access to food in childhood as it could result in poor health outcomes later in life.
“Ensuring an adequate social safety net is important. Additionally, creating local employment opportunities in regional and remote areas can increase the financial security for families,” Dr Godrich said.
“Local Governments across WA will be developing new Public Health Plans. We would like to see strategies included to improve access to affordable, nutritious food options for all families.
“Finally, we need ongoing, accurate measurement of the issue in Australia that also investigates the impact of food insecurity on health outcomes.”
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