Study: Half of U.S. Kids Will Receive Food Stamps

The statistics are sad for the "richest country in the world." In September the number of people on food stamps surged past 35 million. But this study released by the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine shows that nearly half of all US children, including an overwhelming majority (over 90%) of black children, will eat meals at some point during their childhood paid for by food stamps, an indicator of poverty, a study showed Monday. This study was based on analysis of a 32-year study of some 4,800 US households.

And it shows that our children start off life at an severe disadvantage compared to children in other industrialized countries. If you don't believe that consider the conclusion of the study:

American children face the highest levels of poverty and social deprivation of any children growing up in Western developed nations, and they have the flimsiest social safety net to fall back on.

I stress "our children" because at these levels it's US we are really talking about not THEM.

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that's just incredible

I wonder how tied it is to single mothers. The problem is work discriminates against single mothers and there is no strongly subsidized state help with child care either.

It's pretty outrageous that having a child is a sure fire ticket to poverty.

Food stamps have also been proven not to cover food costs enough. So, they buy the "cheap stuff" which is usually empty calories, devoid of nutrition.

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and it goes back to values that is values for taking care of each other. Look, there are many who would say "you know what, if she had a man in the house, this wouldn't be a problem!" The thing is, it doesn't matter any longer. Why? Because this "recession" is hitting men even worse than females this time around. And there is no longer any guarantee that just because you're married that BOTH will have decent (note I've ommitted "good") paying jobs to just make rent/mortgage and put food on the table. It comes down to building a good safety net.

But allow me to play the douche bag for a moment. A couple years back I couldn't get health insurance though I was on Medicare. It was a bad time for me, and ended up on food stamps and Medicaid. I had to go, on St. Louis Ave, to the Illinois HHS. When I got there, I noticed a lot of people getting the stamps who also had mobile phones, and i don't mean the free ones (think iPhone). I'll never forget talking to a woman who had two kids, she's collecting the stamps and complaining to me how she can't make her Direct TV bill.

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more douchebaggery

I see illegals with cash hand outs, nice rentals paid by the state, driving in fairly ok cars with cell phones and birthday parties and direcTV.

It's a running joke in Oregon if you need help to go get a Mexican ID card/stolen SS number and then apply.

But fraud and problems aside, single mothers need support and expecting some guy to do it is ridiculous. They bail, leave the mother and the kid. Happens every day. Two parent households also need help.

This is offtopic for EP, but I watched Frontline last night about medicating kids claiming they have "mental illness" and it's just astounding, I mean horrid. Big pharma has clearly gotten into this "diagnosis" that a 4 yr. old is bipolar and they are sticking kids on meds.

I was horrified! They have no clue on this and here are all of these kids, probably acting out because Mom&Dad are working all of the time, or whatever, getting put on major drugs which they have no idea the long term effects really.

Anyone else sincerely doubt that all of America now magically has a "chemical imbalance"? I think I need to put on all of my id cards some sort of religion or big allergy sheet which lists all of these to be "never given".
Older people too, they are giving them major psychiatric drugs which are a huge no, like chemical straight jackets and there is no one around to sue them for it.

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I saw that Frontline

I couldn't believe it. Actually, there is an economic question here, I'm willing to bet that if one examined the increased number of new drugs that there may be a correlating increase in new users. That is, if Pharma A came out with Drug X, you will see suddenly a new illness with a pool of users. Or, that despite a good record with Drug W, X (which costs more) is being prescribed more.

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no kidding!

and take something like "Depression", well, firstly there is grief, a temporary state and you're going to be depressed, naturally.

But the real thing is depression is a symptom of many underlying serious diseases. Even more scary is the ads say "ask your Doctor", well, how many Doctors even have the time to find out someone's history, what's going on...sure seems like a fast way to get someone out of the office...oh, you're just "depressed" and big pharma makes more big bucks...oops and btw that real underlying condition...we're not treating that one.

All of these drugs have major side effects and often the side effects are worse than the original complaint.

But kids cannot communicate well, and here are these parents just believing these Doctors and even worse, schools are forcing parents to medicate their kids.

Horror! If I had kids I would be private or home schooling under those circumstances.
I thought I was watching a "Brave New World" film if I didn't know any better.

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Frontline comments

Robert, JV, good points. When I saw the Frontline episode on medicating kids, I had a tough time reconciling two valid opposing points. Mental illness itself is tragic, especially in kids. We have medications that are more or less effective, but they have side effects. Yes, the industry does push them, and I have been on review panels for clinical trials of some of these. I do recall one case where I refused to do a review because I thought the condition being treated was not so serious as to warrant the risk -- thus an ethical issue. The clinical trial went ahead, though without my participation. In medicating kids, honest judgments get made that go beyond the scientific evidence -- hence medicine as art rather than science. The doc who spoke of the multiple medication of the kid as "an experiment" was really talking about a single case where the kid's well being was at issue -- not science but art. The case with extrapyramidal symptoms from medication (tics, head rolling, etc.) is alarming, but the trade-off may be worse. You want to say "First do no harm," but childhood mental illness itself is heartbreak and waste.
We can draw economic analogies -- welfare encourages dependence on the state, but we do not want kids to starve or go without medical care. That being said, we may be bothered to see welfare Cadillac behavior, but we sill do not want kid to starve.
Medication? Thank God for prozac and for behavioral therapies. Think of the cost (to the kid who can't learn because of depression, as well as to the society when the kid,untreated, fails at life itself. We have antipsychotic meds because we first had psychotics. How early to treat? That's beyond my knowledge, but the argument is for preventing much worse consequences. I still wonder about long-term effects of drugs (think of amphetamines and their effect on cardiovascular system -- a trade-off to be sure. I'm back where I started, wondering but encouraged.
Now, analogize this: Paul Krugman on stimulus/ kids on medication. Do it and you get possible unwanted effects -- don't do it and you may get failure. Do too much of it and, well, psychiatry and economics are both imperfect. What was it Mike Moscow said so many years ago -- you can have any policy you want if you are prepared to accept the consequences. Same applies in medicine, health care, child welfare, and the prison system. But if the only way you get treated for mental illness is to go to jail, we as a people have really failed.
Frank T.

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Frank T.

sounds like you know quite a bit about it

But still, no way do I buy this stuff, even to claim a 4 yr. old kid can even be diagnosed with "serious mental illness".

Come on, that head tick was caused by those drugs....a 4 yr old kid on that level and kind of major medications?

They don't even know how to read or ride a bike yet.

Look at the parents in that video. If I was a kid, I'd be acting out too with such parents and a bunch of doctors claiming I had a "chemical imbalance" at age 4.

Jesus, at age 4 all kids are insane, they have their imaginary friends, such as an example.

Sorry but I don't buy it. I just do not believe that magically 1 million+ kids as well as adults have "chemical imbalance". I just don't believe God makes that large of an error rate when making human beings. Maybe environmental chemicals or food is causing an increase of problems...but major anti-psychotic drugs which cause permanent disfigurement, such as twitches and ticks (which they do not even understand the cause of such a severe side effect) never mind the side effects of some of those drugs would make one be classified as a loony by themselves.

Magically > 22% the entire planet population now has low serotonin levels when we get a new industry of drugs which....supposedly increase serotonin levels?

I'll stick to pooch therapy myself. One damn dog is worth $50k of little "serotonin level" pills in my book.

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Kids and Drugs

I thought I made my reservations clear, but maybe not. Is the pharmaceutical industry about money? Yes. God knows, we've seen more than enough of the ads that end with the black box caveat "side effects may include death." A product in search of a diagnosis is common. I think we overdiagnose and overtreat, and that brain imaging center was over the top. But we have come a long way from the "cold sheet" treatment.
If a doc has only 15 minutes for a patient, the prescription pad gets over-used. And, in many cases, the patient leaves happy -- a problem health care reform may (sadly) exacerbate. Lots more pills and less attention to disease.
There are many aspects to this issue. I don't know the study that claims 22% prevalence of low seratonin -- sounds like the ECA estimate for depression, which makes a good headline but (a) greatly overblown and (b) does not reflect extent of need for treatment or what kind.
The cases in the Frontline episode are likely cherry-picked, but the over-medication issue is, I think, a scarier story about which we do not know nearly enough. Still, I think the episode points to a problem that is not simple. Long term drug effects in developing brains should scare us, but also keep us asking questions.
Frank T.

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Frank T.

more kids & drugs

I wrote a long time ago, The Euphoric Drug of Profit in a 2 part series.

After doing the reading/research for those posts is why I'm a little emotional on this.

It does scare me to no end, having big pharma control/fund studies and invade Academia.

The problem with "personal stories" generally, as with the Frontline episode is one cannot tell if this is the norm, the statistical average, etc....same is true when they interview laid off people or whatever...

(it's why I don't like documentary via personal story) I want the statistics.

Since you sound like this is your professional area, posts like the profits involved, affecting advanced R&D (which just made a mass exodus to China/India) are all fair game on EP.

That's a whole other kettle of fish and not just in pharmaceutical research. Corporate funding of Academic research, including economics is quite often accused of corresponding bias and I've suspected bias in some reports (esp. coming from Harvard Business School!) and also even in engineering, I've suspected some bias.

Seems like Sloan foundation is one of the "untouched" foundations who fund advanced R&D without expecting a "certain result" to me these days.

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When are people going to realize

we aren't a super power any more. Nor are we the richest when we have THIS many kids on food stamps!

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