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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — September is Hunger Action Month. In the US, 1 in 6 children don’t know where they will get their next meal.

A lack of food causes more than just physical symptoms; it also has lasting mental effects.

In fact, Merriam-Webster recently added the word “hangry” to the dictionary. You know, when you’re so hungry you get angry? It’s totally a thing!

Today’s “Lauren’s List” takes a look at what exactly happens to your brain when you’re hungry, especially how it’s affecting a child’s ability to learn.

  1. Developmental Delays – Hunger delays development on the cognitive, social and emotional level. This includes reading, language, attention, memory and problem-solving capabilities. When kids go to school on an empty stomach, it’s putting them at a disadvantage to absorb the material being taught.
  1. Focus Issues – Hunger hinders our ability to focus and study. Hunger is tied directly to low blood sugar which quickly leads to fatigue and low energy levels  and all wreak havoc on your ability to focus. Studies show children who experience hunger early on are more likely to perform poorly academically, repeat a grade and/or require special assistance while in school.
  1. Eyesight Problems – Each year, as a result of vitamin A deficiency, more than 2 million children experience severe eyesight issues and some are permanently blinded. Straining to see the board or read a book at school often influences the child’s ability to participate in class discussions and activities, thus hindering their academic experience.
  1. Brain Damage – In the most extreme cases, hunger can cause irreversible brain damage. From birth, that type of damage can be caused because of iodine deficiency in the mother. Iodine deficiency is easily preventable and affects around 1.9 billion people worldwide. Foods rich in iodine include dairy, eggs, seaweed, prunes, lima beans and tuna.

To find out how you can take action to prevent and reduce hunger in the US, visit FeedingAmerica.org.

If you have an idea for a future “Lauren’s List”, send it to lpastrana@cbs.com.

 

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