Holiday hunger leaves children malnourished, study reveals
HOLIDAY hunger is leaving children across the country malnourished, a damning study revealed today.
A report from the University of Glasgow showed that for children from Britain’s poorest families, the long break from school does not mean idyllic days out, holidays away and play, but malnourishment, isolation, boredom and a halt to educational experiences.
It found that the health of children from low-income families suffers in the holidays and the attainment gap between poor youngsters and their peers widens.
Professor Nicolas Watson, of the university’s institute of health and wellbeing, said: “The long summer holidays can offer children the chance to have new experiences, opportunities to play, relax, create memories and develop essential social skills.
“While this is true for many children, for some the school holidays are a stressful and impoverished period of isolation, boredom and inactivity.
“For low-income families, summer holidays often entail increased financial pressures, food insecurity, poor health and exclusion from culturally enriching and healthful activities.”
He called for social protection of poor children “to negate the impact of poverty during the summer holidays, which could be in the form of centres where children can take part in enriching activities in a safe environment with good-quality childcare, where they are also fed.”
The report, entitled the Cost of School Holidays for Children from Low Income Families, is published in the journal Childhood.
It concludes that summer holidays are an “exceptionally difficult period” for many hard-up families.
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