The negative effects of poverty & food insecurity on child development

Indian J Med Res. 2007 Oct;126(4):262-72.


This paper addresses the importance of the first three years of life to the developing child, examines the importance of early childhood nutrition and the detrimental effects on child health and development due to poverty and food insecurity. As development experts learn more about the importance of the first three years of life, there is growing recognition that investments in early education, maternal-child attachment and nurturance, and more creative nutrition initiatives are critical to help break the cycle of poverty. Even the slightest forms of food insecurity can affect a young child's development and learning potential. The result is the perpetuation of another generation in poverty. Conceptualizing the poorly developed child as an embodiment of injustice helps ground the two essential frameworks needed to address food insecurity and child development: the capability approach and the human rights framework. The capability approach illuminates the dynamics that exist between poverty and child development through depicting poverty as capability deprivation and hunger as failure in the system of entitlements. The human rights framework frames undernutrition and poor development of young children as intolerable for moral and legal reasons, and provides a structure through which governments and other agencies of the State and others can be held accountable for redressing such injustices. Merging the development approach with human rights can improve and shape the planning, approach, monitoring and evaluation of child development while establishing international accountability in order to enhance the potential of the world's youngest children.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Human Rights / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Hunger / physiology*
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Poverty*
  • Public Policy*