Hunger, with its adverse consequences for children, continues to be an important worldwide problem. For 842 million people worldwide—200 million of which are children—hunger is chronic and effects of hunger are long-lasting with long-term effects that can be felt for the rest of a child’s life, impacting an ability to grow and learn. School-aged children with severe hunger scores had parent-reported anxiety scores are more than double the scores for children with no hunger and significantly higher chronic illness counts and internalizing behaviour problems when compared with children with no hunger. Hunger can reduce a child’s motor skills, lower their activity levels, rob them of the motivation required to explore and learn and make it difficult for them to interact with others. Hunger is about more than just physical health. Without the right nutrition to grow and develop physically, children who suffer from hunger will also go on to suffer emotionally and socially. After controlling for housing status, mother's distress, and stressful life events, severe child hunger was also associated with higher reported anxiety/depression among school-aged children. Hunger delays development on the cognitive, social and emotional level. This includes reading, language, attention, memory and problem-solving capabilities. In the first two years of life, 70% of the brain develops. If a child experiences significant malnourishment, hunger and stress during that time frame, it’s likely their brain will be permanently damaged. When children experience prolonged poverty and hunger, damaging chemicals are released in their brain.
Each child fed is one more healthy and productive adult who will be better able to help those around him/her. Eating affects not only children’s physical growth and health but also their psychosocial and emotional development. The feeding relationship is affected by culture, health status and temperament.