THE BLOG
11/15/2013 01:06 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Not All Meals Are Created Equal

Nearly everywhere you look, you can find a book, magazine, or television ad featuring tips for healthy eating. Especially around this time of year there seems to be an overabundance of holiday-related recipes. However, for many people their focus on food is not about celebrating a special meal, but instead their thoughts revolve around finding and paying for their next meal.

Sadly, each day there are thousands of children and adults, in the United States, facing food insecurity issues. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, as quoted here on the Feed America website (http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-facts.aspx), there are more than 17 million children living in food-insecure households. Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor for ABC News, explains the problems children face. He says:

Unfortunately, there are major gaps in our food safety net. Many of the children who get food through school breakfast and lunch programs go hungry during the summer and over school vacations when these meals are not available. The contributions we make to food banks meet some of this need.

A child who experiences food insecurity issues can also exhibit classroom behavior problems. Psychologist James Windell, who authored the Everything Child Psychology and Development book, says:

Research over the past 10 to 20 years shows that children who have an under supply of certain chemicals and minerals can lead to depression, anxiety, irritability, hyperactivity, and cognitive problems. All of which can affect their school performance.

Children are not the only ones at risk for receiving an inadequate supply of nutrients. Older adults can also be at risk. According to an Oct. 19, 2013 article published by the University of Cambridge ( http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/meals-for-one-how-eating-alone-affects-the-health-of-the-elderly), a long-term comprehensive European Prospective Investigation of Cancer-Norfolk study revealed that eating patterns change as one ages. The study examined the eating habits of 25,000 European adults. This study found a difference in what older adults, who live alone, eat compared with those adults who live with others. Gates Scholar and Ph.D candidate Annalijin Conklin examined this research and is quoted in the article "Meals for One: How Eating Alone Affects The Health of the Elderly" as saying:

Compared with older adults in partnership, those over-50s who were single ate 2.3 fewer vegetable products daily ... As people age, they are less likely to eat well- and when older people are living alone their diet suffers.

In addition, seniors are a significant part of the client population served by local food banks. The non-profit organization Feed America helps to provide food to hungry people, and their website estimates ( http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-facts/senior-hunger.aspx# ) that 8 percent of their clients are seniors. Further, seniors may face unique challenges when it comes to obtaining food resources. Some seniors are not physically mobile and no longer drive. Other seniors may not have access to the internet or know how to navigate online services to obtain information about food pantries or senior meals.

Fortunately, there is something that we can do to help those who are experiencing food insecurity. On Nov. 19, 2013 at 1 p.m. EST, Dr. Richard Besser and the team at ABC News will be hosting a live Twitter chat. During this chat, Dr. Besser says:

For every tweet that gets tweeted out during the hour-long ABC Health tweet chat on Fighting Hunger in America, Disney/ ABC will donate $1.00 to Feeding America -- up to $10,000. We will raise money for America's food banks.

To participate go to Twitter and search for the hashtag #abcDRBchat. To learn how to participate in the Twitter chat, go here http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/dr-bessers-live-twitter-chat-join/story?id=18343653

If you would like to learn more about Feed America, you can go here http://feedingamerica.org/

To learn more about Dr. Besser's book, Tell Me the Truth, Doctor, you can go here http://abcnews.go.com/Health/truth-doctor-answers-health-questions/story?id=18870466 and you can order a copy of the book here http://www.amazon.com/Tell-Truth-Doctor-Easy-Understand/dp/1401324835

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