How Does Hunger Impact The Brain?


Hunger can have huge developmental impacts on children’s brains.

We all know how much hunger can ruin our day. Around lunchtime, our stomachs tend to grumble and we need to start snacking. By letting ourselves get hungry, we start to get sluggish and a bit overwhelmed by everything that’s going on. Even the short-term effects of hunger are detrimental, so it’s important that we look at the long-term impacts that improper nutrition can have on a person. Today, we’re taking a look at how hunger can have huge impacts on the brain.

Delayed Development

For children who experience hunger, there are serious impacts on cognitive, social, and emotional development. This ends up impacting a child’s reading, language, attention, and memory capabilities–which can have lasting impacts into their adulthood. Growing up in poverty and experiencing hunger regularly can alter a person’s life completely just by causing their brain to be delayed in development.

Impacts on Academics

Children who don’t eat regularly are more likely to experience poor academic performances including repeating a grade or requiring special assistance in school. Hunger and stress also contribute to the part of the brain that determines decision making, which can make it incredibly hard for these students to test well and perform under stressful conditions. Plus, vitamin A deficiency can lead to children having eyesight issues, and for those living in poverty, this can make school performances even more difficult.

Why Does This Happen?

When we lack necessary protein, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, we also lack the proper energy we need to lead a productive life. Prolonged poverty and hunger can lead to damaging chemicals being released in the brain. This is especially the case for infants, as 70% of the brain develops in the first two years of life. If a child experiences significant malnourishment during this timeframe, their brain may be permanently damaged.

Talk to My Brother’s Keeper About Helping in Baltimore

To learn more about our youth programs, Attendance Affirmation Project, how to help, or to find out more about our services including hot meal programs, employment assistance, health services and identifying possible emergency shelter, call MBK today at 410-644-3194. You can also follow our official MBK page on Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, to stay up to date on our center’s progress and upcoming events in the community.

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