Pediatricians view sound, appropriate nutrition as a basic foundation of health for children, beginning with the mother's health before and during pregnancy. Good nutrition during pregnancy and childhood decreases the risk of prematurity, fetal or infant death, anemia, and subsequent obesity and other chronic illness. Poor nourishment can impede behavioral and cognitive development, reproductive health, and the ability to learn. Given the close link between nutrition and health, the AAP is a leading voice in support of strong, science-based nutrition programs to help promote children's lifelong health and combat food insecurity.
Child Nutrition Reauthorization
Congress has an important opportunity to improve the health of millions of children by passing a strong bill to reauthorize child nutrition programs. Successful, cost-effective federal nutrition programs play a critical role in reducing child poverty and helping children access healthy foods while improving their overall health, development, and school achievement. The AAP's priorities for child nutrition reauthorization are strengthening the WIC program, keeping the nutritional standards for the school meals program strong, and addressing childhood hunger and food insecurity during out-of-school time, especially in the summer months.
The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee's bill, the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016, is an important step forward in keeping child nutrition programs strong for children. The AAP encourages the Senate to pass this bill.
The AAP opposes the current bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 5003, the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016, because it would reduce access to free breakfast and lunch for children under the Community Eligibility Provision, endanger our child nutrition programs through a harmful 3-state block grant program, weaken the evidence-based school nutrition standards, and fail to adequately invest in WIC, child care and summer feeding programs.
To learn more about AAP's priorities for child nutrition reauthorization, see our one page fact sheet.
For more information on the following topics please visit the corresponding web pages:
Our children deserve the best possible chance at success, and that means that no child should have to struggle with food insecurity. Providing children with access to healthy meals while they are in child care, in school, and during the summer—as well as connecting families to nutritional assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)—not only reduces food insecurity, but also serves as a critical support for the health, behavior, and learning of children.
Pediatricians play a crucial role in identifying children who are at-risk for food insecurity and connecting them and their families with federal nutrition programs and other community resources. Currently, 16 million U.S. children (21 percent) live in households that lack consistent access to adequate food. Steps must be taken to increase access and minimize barriers to child enrollment in federal nutrition programs.
- Visit this web page for more information and resources on the Academy's federal advocacy efforts relating to food insecurity
The AAP strongly recommends breastfeeding as the preferred feeding for all infants, including preterm newborn infants. Breastfeeding has proven to have numerous health benefits for both mother and child. Studies show that children who are not breastfed have higher rates of mortality, meningitis, some types of cancers, asthma and other respiratory illnesses, bacterial and viral infections, ear infections, juvenile diabetes, some chronic liver diseases, allergies and obesity. Due to the resounding evidence of improved child health and well-being, AAP recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for about the first six months, and continue breastfeeding for at least the first year of a child's life as complementary foods are introduced.
- Visit this web page for more information and resources on the Academy's federal advocacy efforts on breastfeeding
- AAP Blueprint for Children: How the Next President Can Build a Foundation for a Healthy Future
- AAP press statement on the Senate's Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016
- AAP press statement on the House's Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016
- Testimony from AAP President Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP, on the importance of federal child nutrition programs
- Guest column in AAP News by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Reauthorization of Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act Vital to U.S. Children
- USDA guest blog post by AAP President Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP, "Sound Nutrition: What Every Child Needs"
- Op-eds on childhood nutrition published in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Boston.com, The Star Tribune and The Des Moines Register
- AAP Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight website
- AAP Section on Childhood Overweight and Obesity website