Consequences of Long Term Undernutrition among Homeless Children

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The Institute of Medicine has estimated the number of homeless children in the United States to be approximately 100,000 each night. Almost half of these children are younger than six years of age. Although this is a growing population, few studies have examined the effect of undernutrition on homeless children. However, recent studies have found that a poor diet diet: the total daily food intake, or the types of foods eaten chronic: over a long period obesity: the condition of being overweight, according to established norms based on sex, age, and height incidence: number of new cases reported each year fatigue: tiredness anemia: low level of red blood cells in the blood gastric: related to the stomach ulcer: erosion in the lining of the stomach or intestine due to bacterial infection gastrointestinal: related to the stomach and intestines cardiovascular: related to the heart and circulatory system hypertension: high blood pressure hypercholesterolemia: high levels of cholesterol in the blood acute: rapid-onset and short-lived infectious diseases: diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, or protozoa, which replicate inside the body diabetes: inability to regulate level of sugar in the blood malnutrition: chronic lack of sufficient nutrients to maintain health nutrient: dietary substance necessary for health in early childhood has implications for long-term health and cognitive development.

Homeless children suffer several medical problems due to undernutri-tion, including chronic and recurring physical ailments, and higher rates of fever, cough, colds, diarrhea, and obesity. In addition, a greater incidence of infections, fatigue, headaches, and anemia, as well as impaired cognitive development and visual motor integration, has been documented in homeless children.

Homeless adults also suffer several medical problems due to undernu-trition. Common problems include anemia, dental problems, gastric ulcers, other gastrointestinal complaints, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, acute and chronic infectious diseases, diabetes, and malnutrition.

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