Hunger and Obesity

boy eating apple at lunchroom tableThe seeming opposites of hunger and obesity are closely linked. To avoid hunger and sustain energy, people who experience food insecurity (reduced quality, variety and desirability of diet and/or reduced food intake) consume a good deal of inexpensive, high calorie, low quality food.

School-based health centers can be a critical partner in addressing hunger and obesity in their schools. They can provide leadership in working with food service, administrators, staff and students to assure students have access to healthy food in school, including in vending machines. Moreover, school-based health centers can provide leadership in advocating for policies in the community, and with state and national policymakers to assuage hunger and curb the spiraling trend towards obesity for those who live in poverty, including one in every five children. More often than not, these are the same children who attend schools with the lowest graduation rates, half of them found in the nation’s poorest neighborhoods.


Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5 to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 30% had at least two risk factors.