|July 11, 2014||Posted by M. P. under Elderly, Health, Policy, Research|
The number of senior citizens considered food insecure increased by 49 percent between 2007 and 2012 according to a study from The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH). Using the Three Core Food Security Module to measure risk, study authors Dr. James P. Ziliak of the University of Kentucky and Dr. Craig G. Gundersen of the University of Illinois found that over 9 million American senior citizens were food insecure, and threat of hunger rates for all senior groups (ages 60 to 69, 70 to 79, and 80+) were higher in 2012 than 2007, even though the recession had ended. The majority of seniors facing threat of hunger due to food insecurity were white with incomes above the poverty line, but both African American and Hispanic seniors were at a higher risk of hunger than whites. Over one-third (35%) had at least one grandchild living with them.
The State of Senior Hunger in America 2012: An Annual Report also ranks states by senior hunger threat, with Arkansas (25.44), Louisiana (23.56), and Mississippi (22.67) having the highest rates in the nation. In 2012, Pennsylvania had a rate of 12.93, down approximately 15 percent from 2011. The NFESH has numerous reports on the threat and consequences of senior hunger at their website.
Food insecurity among seniors may be related to income, neighborhood safety and walkability, and individual physical and mental health, but regardless of the reasons why, the consequences are poor health and a deficit of needed nutrients. As the Baby Boomers age, it’s likely that we will hear more about senior hunger as a top public health issue.
Photo Credit: M. Puzzanchera (Own Work) (CC By-NC-ND 3.0)
|May 16, 2014||Posted by M. P. under Behavorial Health, Children and Family, Health, Research, Youth Development|
Between 2001 and 2011, over 2.2 million American service members were deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Although it is not unusual for military families to experience some stress when a loved one is deployed, studies have found that children with a deployed parent are at risk for higher levels anxiety, poorer academic performance, and drug and/or alcohol use than their peers. Now, research from the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research at the University of San Diego, in partnership with Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, indicates that children of returning wounded service members face additional challenges that may impact their development.
Through extensive interviews with wounded servicemen and women and their families, researchers identified several themes:
- Invisible wounds. Children with parents diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder along with their visible wounds reported increased anger and an overall lack of understanding of the changes in their parent. Youth tended to adapt quicker to tangible wounds and the special care they required.
- Losing both parents. Attention was diverted from children in the family to the newly returned wounded parent, with older children taking on the adult role of providing emotional support and care to siblings and/or the non-injured parent.
- Too much or too little information. Lack of communication with children around the reality of the returning parent’s injuries caused distress. For adults, ill-timed “information dumps” on resources/programs that occurred too early in the reunification process were overwhelming and often not helpful.
- Isolation. Families transitioning from the military to a civilian community with a seriously wounded family member reported feeling isolated, cut off from those who might best understand their experience.
To better meet these needs, the study authors recommend the development or expansion of programs that help families build long term resiliency, as well as youth mentoring and peer-to-peer social support for children.
If you are interested in reading more about the challenges faced by wounded service members and their families, RAND has an exceptional series of reports and presentations from their Military Caregiver Study available at their website.
Report Citation: Schumann, M.J., Nash Cameron, E., Deitrick, L., Reed, G., and Doroliat, D. (2014). Study on Children of Seriously Wounded Service Members. San Diego, CA: Caster Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research, University of San Diego.
|March 31, 2014||Posted by M. P. under Behavorial Health, Federal Government, Policy, Research||
Just over 4 percent of Pennsylvania adults reported experiencing severe mental illness in the past year, while approximately 18 percent reported any mental illness during the same time period, according to the new brief from SAMHSA, State Estimates of Adult Mental Illness for the 2011 and 2012 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. The report contains data from over 92,000 adults in the United States who participated in the National Survey of Drug Use and Health in 2011 and 2012. The rate in Pennsylvania has increased only incrementally since the 2008 and 2009 report, when 3.5 percent of adults in Pennsylvania reported a severe mental illness in the past year, while 17.7 percent reported any mental illness.
In the 2011, 2012 report, West Virginia had the highest rate of severe mental illness (5.5 percent) reported among adults, as well as the highest rate of any mental illness among adults, 21.4 percent. There does not seem to be any regional correlation to rates of mental illness, as states with high and low rates of both severe mental illness and any mental illness are located in all regions of the country. However, these data can assist in examining connections between mental health and other health issues at the state level, such as the link between mental illness and non-response to traditional anti-smoking interventions, hopefully leading to similar innovative approaches to public policy.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (February 28, 2014). The NSDUH Report: State Estimates of Adult Mental Illness from the 2011 and 2012 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. Rockville, MD.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (October 6, 2011). The NSDUH Report: State Estimates of Adult Mental Illness. Rockville, MD.
|February 20, 2014||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Health, Policy, Research, Youth Development||
After a period of aggressive growth, obesity rates among American youth have stabilized somewhat in the last decade. Unfortunately, this good news may distract from the trend data indicating that obesity remains a cause for concern among certain sub-groups of youth.
In the paper, Increasing socioeconomic disparities in adolescent obesity, authors Carl B. Frederick, Kaisa Snellman, and Robert D. Putnam discuss the idea of income level as a kind of dividing line in recent obesity trends. In the early 2000’s, obesity rates declined for youth in higher socioeconomic categories, while slowing down or increasing among lower-income groups. The authors found that youth with college-educated parents also experienced a decline in obesity. Due to the national sample limitations, the interaction of race+class was not tested.
Examining weight management as an equation of calories taken in versus calories expended, these findings indicate that lower income youth and/or youth with parents who had a high school education consumed more calories than their higher income peers and reported less recreational activity or exercise. Issues of transportation to markets that carry a wide variety of items including produce, budget limits and the lure of easy to prepare, tasty (but processed) foods all likely play a role in consumption habits, but that is only half of the equation. The authors note that in 2003, 86.6 percent of adolescent children with college-educated parents reported playing a sport or exercising for at least 20 minutes during the past 7 days compared to 79.8 percent of youth with high-school educated parents. In 2010, the gap in exercise/recreation time increased to 91 percent and 80.4 percent, respectively. Also, at a time when high school sport participation is at record levels, Frederick et al., point out that participation in school sports is declining among lower-income students.
Is income level a factor in youth recreation?
An article in ESPN the Magazine by Bruce Kelley and Carl Carchia dives into the data on youth sports participation, citing research from Dr. Don Sabo, Professor at D’Youville College and Co-Director of their Center for Research on Physical Activity, Sport & Health (CRPASH), that points to household income as the primary factor in how early a child begins playing sports. The article refers to Sabo’s work again in noting that low-income boys (27 percent) and low-income girls (17 percent) were among the least likely groups to be on multiple teams (3 or more) during grades 3 through 8. In addition, the report Progress Without Equity: The Provision of High School Athletic Opportunity in the United States, by Gender 1993-94 through 2005-06, published by the Women’s Sports Foundation (Dr. Sabo is a co-author), found differences in access to recreation, noting that opportunities for athletic participation for students was lowest among urban schools (compared to town, suburban and rural) during the research period.
Trend data indicate that the message to eat healthier and move more is making an impact, but perhaps only among certain social classes, particularly those with the resources to enroll their children in school and club sports. With childhood obesity linked to physical health risks as well as risk-taking behaviors such as drug and alcohol experimentation and conflicts with peers, is it time to lessen the focus on “awareness” and look at realistic ways to increase physical activity for all youth?
Social Sciences – Social Sciences – Biological Sciences – Medical Sciences: Carl B. Frederick, Kaisa Snellman, and Robert D. Putnam Increasing socioeconomic disparities in adolescent obesity PNAS 2014; published ahead of print January 13, 2014, doi:10.1073/pnas.1321355110
Sabo, D. and Veliz, P. (2011). Progress Without Equity: The Provision of High School Athletic Opportunity in the United States, by Gender 1993-94 through 2005-06. East Meadow, NY: Women’s Sports Foundation.