The Nourishing Effect

November 26, 2015
2016 Hunger Report. Photo: Joe Molieri / Bread for the World

2016 Hunger Report — The Nourishing Effect: Ending Hunger, Improving Health, Reducing Inequality

A new study commissioned by Bread for the World Institute shows that last year alone, hunger and food insecurity increased health expenditures in the United States by $160 billion. The study is highlighted in the Institute’s new report, The Nourishing Effect: Ending Hunger, Improving Health, Reducing Inequality.

“Nowhere are the hidden costs of hunger and food insecurity greater than in health care,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “Access to nutritious food is essential to healthy growth and development, and can prevent the need for costly medical care. Many chronic diseases — the main causes of poor health as well as the main drivers of healthcare costs — are related to diet.”

Food insecurity is associated with higher rates of depression, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other physical and mental health conditions. Food assistance programs such as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and school lunches save money in the long run by improving educational and health outcomes.

Government resources that could go toward programs such as early childhood education or reducing the national debt are instead spent in emergency rooms and hospitals to offset the costs of hunger and food insecurity. The $160 billion is equivalent to more than a third of the U.S. government’s annual deficit.

The study was carried out by John Cook of Boston Medical Center and Children’s HealthWatch, and Ana Paula Poblacion of Universidade Federal de São Paulo in Brazil.

“The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure has never been more appropriate,” said Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute. “Investments in federal nutrition programs are critical and much more needs to be done to ensure that vulnerable and underserved communities have access to healthy foods.”

Ending hunger and food insecurity will allow millions of people to do better in school, be more productive at work, and live healthier lives. The Nourishing Effect offers recommendations for healthcare providers, anti-hunger advocates, and policymakers to help make a healthier, hunger-free U.S. a reality.

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from our Resource Library

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    Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

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    Leaders from the African-American community have helped our country and other nations inch ever closer to the goal of ending hunger and poverty by 2030. Key contributions by African-Americans throughout this century can be found below.

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For Faith

  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    A brief examination of the biblical approach to health as a hunger issue.

    Includes an introduction to the issue, a Scriptural reflection, practical actions you can take, and a prayer.

  • Bread Newsletter January 2016

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  • Interfaith Religious Leaders’ Pledge to End Hunger

    A wide array of the nation’s faith leaders have come together on the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival in the United States to commit ourselves to encourage our communities to work for the end of hunger by 2030 and, toward that end, for a shift in U.S. national priorities.

    We are deeply pleased...

For Advocacy