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Study reveals food insecurity adversely impacts children's learning

The research found that persistent and severe food insecurity resulted in lower test scores and lesser years of education.

Representative image (Image: Lancaster University)

Research published in the Journal of Nutrition revealed that Indian children from households that struggle to access nutritious food would have less cognitive development. The Food Security for Equitable Futures research team based at Lancaster University, the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur and the University of Barcelona, together conducted the study.

"The study found that both more persistent and more severe food insecurity were linked to lower test scores and fewer years of education completed," a news release by Lancaster University said. The research, which did not cover the pandemic period, noted that food insecurity declined between 2009 and 2016, and emphasized that food insecurity might have increased during Covid-19.

The paper ‘Children’s educational outcomes and persistence and severity of food insecurity in India: Longitudinal evidence from Young Lives,' was based on data from 2009, 2012, and 2016 of the Young Lives survey for India. The research considered the overall average test score in vocabulary and mathematics and then examined how children from food-insecure households and food-secure households performed.

Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr Thomas Argaw, who led the study, stressed, “We say children are the future and education is the key to open doors. We should therefore proactively work to look for options that can reduce the burden of food insecurity on children and help children focus on their education.” Dr Jasmine Fledderjohann of Lancaster University said that the study highlighted how consequential food insecurity can be for children’s learning and educational progression.