urbanslug 2 months ago

> Hunger during childhood can have a ripple effect that we are only just beginning to understand.

I come from Africa and I attend talks at a medical research lab, many of which often end up involving malnutrition for obvious reasons.

I have seen a lot of research talking about how malnutrition affects kids intellectual abilities, immunity and more. This is not a problem we are just begining to understand.


It's also fairly common knowledge that children who get malnourised never catch up in many facets of life.

joefourier 2 months ago

I am struggling to understand how not having enough money for food is possible in a first world country. You can feed yourself for about $1 a day per person with careful budgeting, or $30/month.

That is the equivalent of 3 hours of work at minimum wage in the UK, and if that is an amount an individual is unable to spare, then that person clearly qualifies for governmental assistance, especially one with three dependent children.

EDIT: See below comment for satisfying the calorie requirements on $1 a day, or consider that you can get 1 kg of rice for £0.45 which contains 3,650 calories.

  • sethammons 2 months ago

    Rewind about, jeeze, nearly 20 years for me. A dollar a day is pretty much what I narrowly avoided starvation on.

    I got by on about $20/mo (in addition to free food). I would heat a solitary potato in a toaster oven for breakfast. Just the potato. After bumming a ride to high school, I would wait until lunch. I had Free Lunch (I was poor). That was usually a hamburger, a milk, and something resembling some kind of vegetable approximation. I would steal one additional hamburger and sell it for $0.50 or $0.75 (don't recall which) which was a deal to the other person. On the way home, I would stop by the store and turn that profit into a single can of Campbell's soup. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes, I could not get a hamburger to steal, so no dinner. Nothing on the weekend unless I could bum food at friend's houses (worked out more often than it probably should have). When I got to university, I could reliably get closer to $2/day and that meant that I could get a Jumbo Jack and two tacos for lunch. If I chose to not eat for a few days, I could get a Little Caesar's pizza.

    There were periods of more food or less. Things got better over time. By my second year at university, my then-girlfriend-now-wife and I (and our small kid) were eating regularly. I think our budget was $30/week. I put on like 60lbs in two or three months. I had folks I barely knew tell me I was looking better. But man, I can recall just wanting enough liquidity to be able to afford a dang pizza. That lasted until well after getting my degree.

    • phaedrus 2 months ago

      The vending machine at my college dorm malfunctioned so it would give your selection and give your change back. It went on for a couple days until, over the weekend, an acquaintance / former roommate used the trick to empty the machine. Most people were mad at him for "ruining it for everyone". I understood, though, why he did it: he had no money and no food.

    • oarabbus_ 2 months ago

      If you don't mind me asking or answering, what put you in such dire circumstances growing up? Low income family, or were there other factors? Totally understand if you prefer not to discuss.

      • sethammons 2 months ago

        Happy to talk about most of it. It was my normal then. I like me, and my history is part of that, so, yeah, no worries writing a bit about it. Low income for sure. At one point, my dad took off to go live with his girlfriend and that left me at the house. He eventually came back, but I was on my own for quite a while. I did not have a vehicle yet and we were 10 miles outside of town in a small mountain community. Kinda hard to get a job. I heated my water and cooked my food on a wood burning stove and took cold showers for a while. I would usually get rides to school from my buddy down the street. If he couldn't, then I'd ask a neighbor. The other part to understand is this did not feel "dire" -- only in retrospect as a well-to-do software developer am I like "yeah, I guess that was abnormal." It is part of who I am.

        So, more crazy story time. When my dad took his hiatus, he left the house in a state of semi-construction. He had tore down a wall to do some addition (really, no clue how he was planning on affording that). That made heating kinda hard in the mountains in winter haha. Winters would get down into the 20s (f) at times. I mostly kept to the back bedroom at that point (where the wood stove was) and took some plastic sheeting and made a partial barrier to channel some heat into the restroom. I once came home to find that raccoons had tore up all my food stores. As I was cleaning up, they tried to come back to get "their" food. Stubborn things. I was throwing stuff and shouting at them and they were just like, "yo, bro, you done? we gots to eat." Finally ran them off. Learned to be better about how I stored any extra food I might scavenge up.

        To add some more color, this above was when I was about 17. Two years prior, I became a dad. So my then-girlfriend-now-wife (still together 20+ years later, and I'm paying for my oldest to go to college which feels nice) was living at a way different spot on the mountain. So I would get rides for the ~50 miles or so over to her place on weekends when I could. I did not live with her at the time for a couple of reasons. Most of which was I was determined to graduate high school and get into college, but also her situation was not much better than mine aside from some state aid.

        Eventually, graduated high school, got a (nearly) full academic scholarship to a nearby university. By the second year, an uncle had given me a small truck so I was mobile and able to do graphic design work for the university. My wife and I were able afford a (very) small wedding and move in together. Things have been hard, but they always are getting better. I've worked in photography and design during school, after in insurance, stocks and mutual funds, I've been a math teacher, did some construction, and most recently I am a software developer. I've really found my calling here and I have been blessed with a fantastic company to work for, great friends at work, a healthy family (now three kids), and a very supportive wife. We are living the dream and we are so very far removed from our humble beginnings. It really was a lifetime ago. I really don't regret a thing (though it would have been nice to have been as well off as we are now much earlier haha). I've known folks with really messed up history and I've heard real horror stories of how others have grown up. My story is really not all that bad.

    • c0vfefe 2 months ago

      Not throwing shade, but since the comment you replied to assumed the availability of public assistance, did you find that to be available in your experience?

  • kstenerud 2 months ago

    This kind of comment can only come from someone well off.

    Poverty is not simply a problem of money, but of time and opportunity as well. When you're poor, you can't take advantage of opportunities to save money, because your needs are immediate, your coffers low, and your ability to store limited. You work long hours, hungry all the time, and then go home exhausted, unable to even think about spending time planning and preparing meals or dealing with the growing mountain of paperwork, or worrying about what broke that needs fixing.

    I've been in this situation, and it's not fun. At one point, I spent a month living on bean sprouts and instant ramen, because that was the only thing within walking range that was chaep. You get calories, yes, so you don't die. But your brain suffers, your judgment suffers, and you're tired all the time. I'm shocked I didn't get scurvy, tbh.

    When you're in the poverty spiral, it's almost impossibly difficult to pull yourself out.

    • d1zzy 2 months ago

      While I haven't had to live with hunger all my life, I've been through some months of real hunger, with no money to buy food. Your description above comes very close to my (foggy) memories of the experience. It changed me. Things that I remember:

      - like you said, I was constantly tired because of the constant feeling of hunger. I was mostly one minded, thinking about how to get any food.

      - I was also grumpy (low blood sugar), didn't talk almost at all (although I was sharing my room with other people so there was plenty of opportunity to speak). Also made me feel like the lowest person around, useless, because I would just wait around until my room mates would prepare something to eat hoping that they'd invite me to share, that was really bad for self esteem. I was starting to think (could be real, but in my state of mind at the time I can't be sure) that my room mates were going hungry/delaying eating to avoid me being there so I started going out just to let them eat and not feel bad of not being able to share

      - it didn't help that I got fired from my first job after 2 weeks of work (and they didn't pay me anything)

      I got out of it by blind luck, a friend found someone that was looking to hire someone with my skills and told me about it.

  • d4mi3n 2 months ago

    I’d like to point out that while this is possible, it requires:

    1. Cooking skills

    2. Awareness of these cheap ingredients


    I took basic nutrition and cooking classes as a kid. Many people in lower income areas do not have that opportunity.

    • ApolloFortyNine 2 months ago

      >1. Cooking skills

      Cooking skills are hardly a skill. 10 minutes watching a youtube video once should give you all the knowledge you need to cook almost anything. Baking can be more of a challenge, but anything involving a frying pan or a pot? I'd be legitimately worried if you can't figure that out within an hour.

      I'll give you 2, and to a lesser extent 3, as knowing where to buy produce cheaply, and what meals can be cooked in under 15 minutes, does take a little more effort. But using "I don't know how to cook" as an excuse is more of a sign of raw ignorance to me. Putting a cup of rice in a rice cooker and a chicken breast on a stove is not difficult.

      • anigbrowl 2 months ago

        I've been cooking for 30 years, I've made a living out of it, and no it's not that simple. You talk like someone who has never cooked anything outside of a microwave.

        But using "I don't know how to cook" as an excuse is more of a sign of raw ignorance to me.

        That wasn't what was said, and misrepresenting the content of other people's posts is a sign of raw trolling to me.

        • Konnstann 2 months ago

          Not disagreeing with the overall point, but there is a difference between "haute cuisine" and cooking a meal. There is a lot that you can do that basically equates to slicing ingredients, seasoning with salt/pepper, maybe putting some sort of oil on the ingredients, and throwing it in the oven for a specified amount of time.

          Once budget isn't a concern, buy a sous-vide machine and your chances of screwing up your cooking go down drastically.

        • ApolloFortyNine 2 months ago

          >I've been cooking for 30 years, I've made a living out of it, and no it's not that simple. You talk like someone who has never cooked anything outside of a microwave.

          Okay come on here, you know I did not post this to attack cooking as a profession. I have no doubt that you can make a tastier dish then I can.

          My point was only that the basics of cooking is incredibly easy. One pot meals for example are exactly that, dump things in a pot and cook them. Even screwing up the order in something like Chili will still give you an eatable, tasty meal.

          >You talk like someone who has never cooked anything outside of a microwave.

          I have, and generally they act like it's a hard undertaking, so I give them easy recipes. Chili, Bratwurst, Curry, these are all meals that can be made in a limited number of dishes on the cheap. Serve with rice, and you can drastically cut your food cost.

          EDIT: Honestly, I thought you were saying I hadn't talked to people who haven't cooked outside a microwave. I didn't realize you were actually attacking me. I've cooked quite a bit outside of a microwave, thank you.

      • lgessler 2 months ago

        Whatever the cause might be, the fact remains that for some reason many impoverished people don't prepare the meals economists imagine they would. Calling this "raw ignorance" is a non-explanation. To say nothing of education and knowledge, impoverished people are also often dealing with an incredible number of problems spanning mental health and social issues, and it's not hard to imagine how these problems might individually or collectively keep a person from doing something so apparently simple.

        • ApolloFortyNine 2 months ago

          >Calling this "raw ignorance" is a non-explanation.

          I called blaming cooking skills an act of raw ignorance. And I'll stand by that, even if people here feel the need to downvote me for it. There are thousands of meals that can be made with bare minimum skill, if you can cut a vegetable or put something in a pan.

          Knowing what meals to make is admittedly harder, which is why I said so in my comment. But saying "I don't know how to cook" is not a valid excuse.

      • rhinoceraptor 2 months ago

        If you're living on a dollar a day, you probably don't have access to youtube, a working stove/microwave, or cooking utensils.

        Also, if all you have is a couple dollars, you probably can't even buy the ingredients. It's always cheaper in bulk, at membership stores like Costco that you can't afford.

        • Izkata 2 months ago

          > If you're living on a dollar a day, you probably don't have access to youtube

          You can get free internet access for short periods at public libraries.

          Granted you do have to know about it in the first place.

  • slothtrop 2 months ago

    I imagine in 1st world countries, the total amount of calories is less the issue, it's malnutrition. School lunches are garbage. Sometimes the food at home is garbage is the parent is ignorant enough.

  • maccard 2 months ago

    This is the same as saying "I can't understand how people are overweight. Everything has a calorie label and 10 minutes on youtube will tell you how to figure out how much you need". You're ignoring the externalities - not knowing how to cook (sure it's easy, if you were shown. Otherwise, where do you start? ), not having (or properly prioritisng) time - shopping, meal planning, cooking, cleaning up all take time that these people currently can't see a way to get.

    • c0vfefe 2 months ago

      To say nothing of a lack of cognitive energy to significantly alter the flow of cash/calories.

  • Human_USB 2 months ago

    Please share how you are able to eat for $30 a month per person.

    • topspin 2 months ago

      I doubt that $30/month figure is plausible for someone without high quality preparation and storage facilities and great discipline. But it seems like a pointless discussion to me; there is no place in the US you can't avail yourself of a SNAP card and an average of $126/person/month (www.cbpp.org figures.)

      If a kid isn't being fed it isn't for lack of funds, it's some other dysfunction. I have no doubt such dysfunction is indeed prevalent, but correcting it would involve a direct intervention of the day to day behavior of individuals. And while it may be easy to hypothesize about such a world from the comfort of your $5000/month Seattle apartment, in the real world people -- including both the parents and the kids you have in mind -- don't want it, will resist it and so the whole thing becomes another shit show at the end of which you'll still have kids going hungry.

      • fencepost 2 months ago

        Hasn't there been a huge push since the 90s to make accessing SNAP and other "welfare" services harder to access (long complex enrollment processes) and harder to keep access to?

        Other than that sure you can eat fairly well on $4/day - if you have decent access to stores, storage to stockpile bulk purchases when on sale and appropriate pots/pans/knives, a stove, perhaps an oven, refrigeration, etc.

        There are a lot of people who lack several of those prerequisites.

        • topspin 2 months ago

          > Hasn't there been a huge push since the 90s to make accessing SNAP and other "welfare" services harder to access

          There has been a huge push of a narrative to that effect. Actual USDA enrollment rate data doesn't reflect much success in these supposed policies however; current enrollment (over 40 million) is far above any point in the 90s (less than 30 million.)

          • c0vfefe 2 months ago

            Does this figure take population growth into account?

        • rhinoceraptor 2 months ago

          Not to mention having the cashflow to afford bulk food purchases in the first place to save money in the longer term.

  • 14 2 months ago

    You are struggling because you have lived an easy life and don’t actually know what the true cost of eating every day is. I would offer up my next pay check to the local food bank to see you take 30$ and live a month off of it.

  • coralreef 2 months ago

    Okay, I'll bite.

    Please describe how a person can eat for $30/month

    • mftrhu 2 months ago

      Not quite $30/month, but someone decided to limit himself to $2.5 per day for 46 days and the results look delicious https://futureboy.us/blog/twofifty.html

      • sgift 2 months ago

        I skimmed that post and it uses the classic technique of "if I have to buy something for 10$ but only eat part of it I count the amount it costs me for that day" - that only works if you have the money to buy in bulk, which is not the case for the majority of people who get dished out the "you can eat for almost nothing!" advice.

    • astura 2 months ago

      If you limited your diet to rice, beans, oats, and lentils bought in bulk you can probably get close.

      • woodandsteel 2 months ago

        And have a stove, pots, and a refrigerator to store what you cook.

        • SketchySeaBeast 2 months ago

          And don't mind missing a ton of vital nutrients (Vitamin A, D, Calcium...)

    • mtnGoat 2 months ago

      search google, this experiment has been done a few times. You can get the required caloric intake for an adult for under $30 per month.

      it's not the tastiest of food and it'll be mostly the same, but it can be done.

  • mzs 2 months ago

    Where do you get it? How do you get it from there? Where do you keep it before cooking? How do you prepare it? Where do you keep it from spoiling? How do you keep it from being stolen?

  • chipperyman573 2 months ago

    >You can feed yourself for about $1 a day per person with careful budgeting, or $30/month.


    • joefourier 2 months ago

      Going by UK prices as that was the subject of the article and what I'm familiar with, you can get 1 kg of long grain rice for £0.45 (~$0.60), which contains 3,650 calories. 1kg of lentils is £1.40 ($1.83) and contains 3,530 calories and a healthy amount of proteins, minerals and vitamins. A female needs 2000 calories per day, so for £0.67p ($0.88) you can get 1000 calories from rice and 1000 calories from lentils and meet your minimum requirements, and have some money left over to buy salt, spices and veg.

      Other staples such as oats, beans, pasta are at similar prices (1kg of oats can be found as low as £0.75 and contains 3650 calories) and can provide additional nutritional diversity, but there is no question that you can meet your minimum calorie requirements with $1/day, at least in the UK.

      This may not be the most appealing diet to some (although spices go a long way into making cheap palatable dishes), but if the alternative is going so hungry you are unable to move without grabbing on to furniture, you cannot afford to complain about the taste of a bland bowl of a rice.

      • SketchySeaBeast 2 months ago

        So, how do you fight off scurvy? What does 12 cents worth of veg look like? That's, what, an 1/8th of an orange a day?

        • joefourier 2 months ago

          You buy off whatever veg is on-sale (e.g. the Aldi Super 6) - citrus can be less than a pound per kg, so 12 cents can actually get you a whole medium-sized orange (you buy a pack for 50p and eat it over the next few days). Cabbage, broccoli and misc frozen veg are generally more cost-effective, however.

          • SketchySeaBeast 2 months ago

            Based upon that diet you'd get 0% of your Vitamin D, 5 % of your vitamin A, and 15% of your calcium. You'd get 4 grams of fat, no sodium, and barely any potassium. You'd be getting 180% of your recommended carbs for the day.

            I doubt that would be sustainable over the long term.

            • joefourier 2 months ago

              You can take supplements or research the other low cost foods that compensate for the deficiencies (spinach, eggs, fish oils, etc.). Do note that the primary goal is to obtain enough calories to avoid suffering from hunger and dizziness, not achieving the most optimal and sustainable diet (although a rice, beans, oat & veg diet is doubtlessly a far better base than the typical low-income western pattern diet of fast food and sugary drinks).

              Obviously you'd obviously want to find ways to increase your income in order to have more than a $1/day to spend on food, but you'll never get there if you're starving.

              • SketchySeaBeast 2 months ago

                If your budget is $1/day I doubt that supplements are in the cards, and it's obviously not sustainable, as part B of this nutritional plan is "get a better job".

                • DuskStar 2 months ago

                  The multivitamin I get off Amazon is ~7c/day. I'm sure there are cheaper options out there, though.

    • ApolloFortyNine 2 months ago

      You can do $2 a day pretty easily in my opinion. Basically you want rice (or pasta) and beans to be the bulk of your calories, and anything else just adds flavor. Helps that in America you generally have access to $2/lb boneless chicken breast (and I've gotten drum sticks for 69c a pound before, but those are more of a pain) at one of your grocery stores, and rice and beans are almost free (25c-50c a day), even in smaller bulk sizes such as 5lb bags. Potatoes, carrots, bananas, and apples are examples of fruits and vegetables that are generally incredibly cheap.

      Once you get up to $5 a day per person it really feels like you can eat any thing, once you start following a budget. I've met people with budgets around $400 a month for one person, though that usually includes a lot of eating out.

      US currency, by the way.

    • Kluny 2 months ago

      $30 worth of lentils. Mmm, tasty.

      • uptownfunk 2 months ago

        Frankly lentils/beans/rice (cooked nicely with oil and seasoning of course) is way better than a lot of the garbage people eat for much more money.

        • ApolloFortyNine 2 months ago

          Seasoning is something people seem to miss a lot. Just garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, and of course salt and pepper can bring a dish up to something you could see eating at a restaurant.

          • uptownfunk 2 months ago

            Right? It's not even that hard. In Indian cooking the 'tadka' method is used for lentils and beans (also called chonk, chaunce, vaghar, etc.). It is basically heated oil with some spices thrown in and gently fried (not burnt), this tempering is then mixed in with the rest of food. Here is a good example:

            https://youtu.be/xEeoZYpa5wY?t=95 (it's in Hindi, but you don't really need to understand necessarily, looks authentic).

      • hombre_fatal 2 months ago

        If you can't prepare lentils in a way that you'd describe as tasty, then you owe it to yourself to look up any of the thousands of youtube videos or recipes that prepare it a thousand different ways.

      • belltaco 2 months ago

        You can make some extremely delicious meals with lentils, especially yellow and red split lentils, given the right spices, which are also pretty cheap.

  • shambolicfroli 2 months ago

    What about cheap functional vitamins? It used to be that the pills were small and you could buy a year's supply in one spicejar-sized bottle. Is there anything like this still available?

  • frgtpsswrdlame 2 months ago

    Keep in mind that the working poor are not just poor in money they are poor in time. The often acknowledged downside to extremely cheap food budgets is that they offer little variety and don't taste that good - especially not to most kids. The often unacknowledged downside to extremely cheap food budgets is that they can be time intensive, meaning mom or dad needs to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • Kenji 2 months ago

    Lmao, try that in Switzerland. A very cheap broccoli head almost costs $1 and has basically no calories. You would literally starve. Anything that contains meat or sugar is almost an order of magnitude more expensive for one meal.

mruts 2 months ago

My wife is an evolutionary anthropologist and she says that you set your baseline for life under the age of 5. Things like metabolism, reproductive strategies, etc.

There is this great study of Indian girls adopted from an orphanage into Western families. After being adopted, the girls reached menarche at the ages of 7 or 8. The evolutionary signals are clear: if you are starving and then get a huge influx of calories, your body interprets this as temporary so you better reproduce while the going is good.

  • bonestamp2 2 months ago

    Wow. Some of those kids would have been in diapers less than 4 years earlier in the West.

  • mruts 2 months ago

    Why am I being downvoted?

    • the-dude 2 months ago

      I upvoted you just yet, asking why you are downvoted is frowned upon ( see the guidelines ).

    • black-tea 2 months ago

      Probably because you mentioned reproductive strategies.

babyslothzoo 2 months ago

Food addiction, overeating, and the resulting obesity also affect children (and adults) their whole lives, leading to immense increase in disease and a shortened lifespan, amongst other problems.

What a strange situation we have where there are people simultaneously starving with insufficient food and nutrition, and also a massive population that is dramatically overfeeding their way into catastrophic health problems.

aszantu 2 months ago

my guess would be that the protein will be too low and the quality of carbs are bad at poor households. my depression went away after switching to high fat/no carb with at least 20 gramms of protein per meal. So poor people prolly get more calories from refined sugar and cheap carbs.

When younger, I was hungry in school and would sometimes be in pain from it. Never stopped worrying about food ever since. Most of my anxiety is gone now, but I keep cat food just in case and insects(mealworms) as a secondary food source should things ever go so bad that everything falls appart.

  • jandrewrogers 2 months ago

    The nature of "poor people food" varies widely depending on where you are and what is cheap locally. Rural poor, for example, often have game animals and garden vegetables as a significant part of their diet, which is pretty healthy as such things go. When I lived in the Palouse, lentils and peas figured prominently because those were local crops and therefore approximately free. The diets of the urban poor are admittedly worse in my experience.

    • maerF0x0 2 months ago

      +1-ing on that to add also "poor" sometimes means access, not $ .

      For example some "food deserts" exist where the most available food is also the least healthy.

  • hombre_fatal 2 months ago

    Of all the available foods, you chose cat food and mealworms as your emergency backup?

musicale 2 months ago

Fortunately in the US we have largely replaced hunger with obesity. ;-(

irrational 2 months ago

What about kids that choose not to eat? I served chicken cordon bleu last night and half the kids revolted and decided that going to bed hungry was better than eating.

Seriously though, our middle child won't eat anything. He basically subsist on baby carrots and chicken nuggets. He's been like that since he was 3 years old. We thought he'd eventually outgrow it, but he is 14 now and is about 18" shorter than all his peers. We've taken him to doctors and psychologists and other people who specialize in this kind of stuff to no avail. I can't help wondering if he will be similarly affected as mentioned in the article.

  • notmarkus 2 months ago

    This was me for most of my life. But it was cucumbers and pasta with butter (no sauce, no cheese). I took the radical step of my first cheese pizza at 23 while working a long shift at Domino's.

    At 25, I took a long hike with a good friend. Afterwards, we stopped at a Thai restaurant, I ordered a garden salad. Halfway through, I looked at my friend's chicken basil and thought, "My aversion to new food is purely mental. I can do this." I took a bite of his chicken, it was the first meat I'd tried without it being coerced, I tried not to overthink it and found that I enjoyed it. I ordered the same dish for myself. Within a few months I was eating beef tongue, oysters, roasted ants, you name it.

    I'm not sure if my parents would have been able to break me out of my pickiness. If I overthought what I was eating, I'd gag, and I think that was the original seed of the issue. That's an unpleasant and embarrassing experience, and I think it happened very early in my life, earlier than I can remember. So I believe I developed an aversion to trying new food, and the overthinking/gagging became a self-reinforcing cycle.

    What seemed to work for me was the combination of being tired and truly hungry — not just "I want to eat" but "my body desperately needs sustenance" hungry — along with being hours from home and in a place where everything on the menu was foreign to me. I don't know if you can replicate this scenario with your 14 year old, and I don't know if it would have worked for me at 14. Maybe I was just ready for a change in my life. But being malnourished affected me negatively, and I wish I had resolved it at 14 when I was still developing, rather than 25 when it was too late.

    • pojzon 2 months ago

      Its sad, because you did hurt yourself in the long run.

      Nutricion during early days is crucial as it allows your brain and organs to develop faster, better.

      I know as a parent i shouldnt force food on my kids but i am and i will keep on doing that knowing how big of an impact it will have on their life later on.

      • Moru 2 months ago

        Forcing them might have a worse effect. Be relaxed about it and try to show them other ways of eating with unknown people might help though.

        • Izkata 2 months ago

          > with unknown people

          Nooo, that was the source of the problem with me.

          Only at 30 am I slowly trying things I wouldn't before, because I live alone and there's no one to see me gag and toss the meal in the garbage if I truly don't like it.

          • Moru 2 months ago

            Sorry, meant visual input, not to eat in front of strangers.

      • johnsimer 2 months ago

        It takes ~9 days for kids tastebuds to adapt to new food IIRC

  • RHSeeger 2 months ago

    My daughter won't each cheese. Except for mac-and-cheese, and cheese raviolis, and a dozen other things that have cheese. Basically, anything she liked before she decided she didn't like cheese, or that she didn't know had cheese before she decided she like it. How do you not like cheese?!? It took over year to convince her that pizza had the good type of cheese.

    • cuspycode 2 months ago

      I stopped eating cheese at around 4 or 5 years of age. I just stopped liking it one day and started hating it instead. When I turned 25 I began eating pizza as an experiment, and had no problems with it, but still many years later I do avoid cheese and other dairy products in most situations. I suspect it might have something to do with lactose intolerance, but I have never attempted to verify this.

    • pdpi 2 months ago

      It seriously bothers me that I can’t bring myself to like cheese, but I literally just can’t — except for a handful of places where it doesn’t bother me.

      As an example: At a food science exhibit about the interaction between senses, I tried biting on a cube of fairly mild cheddar while sniffing at a vial of onion aroma. Cheese and onion? No issue! However, literally as soon as I moved the vial away from my nose and I got the leftover cheese flavour alone, I started gagging and retching. As a foodie this bothers me to no end, but I just can’t do it.

    • sjg007 2 months ago

      My kids eat “cheese” pizza because I said it had no cheese in it.

    • grawprog 2 months ago

      Sounds like my sister. She never got over it. Still hates cheese. Eats many things with cheese in it, unless the cheese is extremely prominent. She'll eat a pepperoni and cheese pizza, but not a straight up cheese pizza for example.

      • swsieber 2 months ago

        I'd be tempted to make her sausage pizza every time she came over and just slowly reduce the amount of sausage on it ever time... (or mini-pepperoni - the important thing is that it's small).

    • andai 2 months ago

      There's a lot of different kinds of cheese. Some are garbage, some are the nicest thing in the world. Maybe she just hates one particular cheese and generalized?

      • Izkata 2 months ago

        Might not even be a cheese, but how it's prepared. I have a strong aversion (often triggering a gag reflex) with gooey/melted cheese, but almost any other consistency is fine.

        Pizza, for example, I cook until the cheese is browned and no longer gooey.

        It's so much easier to just say I don't like cheese than try to explain this to people. Too many will cook it gooey then tell me "this way it's not burnt"...

  • gzu 2 months ago

    You fed him baby carrots and chicken nuggets for 10 years? Why would you enable that? Make him hungry and he will eat with everyone else.

    • Kluny 2 months ago

      He's 14 - do you think you're the first person who ever suggested that?

      • kirvyteo 2 months ago

        I do this to my kids. I don't know if it helps. (The older one is 9 who eats almost everything and a younger picky eater who is 5.) Getting them to try a wider variety of food is often tough since it is easy to fall back on the usual stuff. Occasionally I have new types of food, I would make a small bitesize and use all the powers I have for them to take the first mouth. If they swallow it without tasting, they get a second mouth of it. They have to describe the taste to me precisely in simple terms, e.g sweet, chunky, sour, like apples etc. Often when they have a conscious bias, e.g. the younger one dislikes anything that resembles white creamy sauce, they will say it is "yucky". Yucky is not a taste descriptor. I sometimes add things they like e.g. bits of chocolate. My goal is to encourage them to focus on the taste and make connections like "this ugly piece of food will taste like chocolate since there is chocolate. Btw it is actually sweet as well". Basically, I am trying to address a unconscious bias in their imagination of the taste. It also helps to understand better what they really like and what is totally unacceptable. For example, taste-wise, tomatoes are off limits to my older one ... for now because you never know when it changes. :) Hope this gives you some ideas.

      • slothtrop 2 months ago

        The battle seems lost at 14. In the early years though, picky as kids may be, they won't starve themselves. You can negotiate to such a point that they'll consume enough healthy food on the regular. If you always provide unhealthy alternatives these will be exploited. If you enable and pander they'll have nothing but garbage.

      • gzu 2 months ago

        Of course not. I’m willing to bet it’s an issue with the parents actions over the course of a decade unless the child has severe mental disabilities. It’s impossible to believe an otherwise healthy 14 year old child would die by refusing to eat food other than carrots and chicken nuggets for weeks on end. Doctors may give answers but it’s up to the parents to follow through.

      • screye 2 months ago

        I was 18 when I was sent to a university hostel with a terrible dining system. My parents didn't give me a penny beyond what was required to survive.

        Lo and behold, in a few months, I was eating terrible tasting mess food that I wouldn't have otherwise touched back home.

        He's just 14. It may just take policies that are more radical than you probably like or endorse.

    • irrational 2 months ago

      Tried that. Didn't work. He will literally vomit if anything touches his lips that he doesn't want to eat. Every time. So force feeding won't work. And he doesn't seem to get hungry. He will happily go days and days without eating rather than eating something he doesn't want to eat.

      • rsync 2 months ago

        "Tried that. Didn't work. He will literally vomit if anything touches his lips that he doesn't want to eat. Every time. So force feeding won't work."

        Nobody suggested force feeding. Probably because it's a terrible idea.

        You unceremoniously, and disinterestedly put food in front of them and when the meal is over, there's no more food available from any other source.

        At 14yo it's too late for this, but for other readers, this will involve at most 1-3 days of annoyance and disruption. They'll be hungry and eat the food and you'll have quickly ripped off that band-aid instead of slowly, excruciatingly peeled it off bit by bit over the entire course of their childhood - which is a good metaphor for a lot of parenting.

        This relates to one of the best pieces of parenting advice I ever heard: You almost never see a child throw a fit/tantrum about being put into a carseat. Why ? Because it has never worked. No matter what they do or say or scream, they know they're going in that carseat. If you see a fit/tantrum/stubbornness its because they know there's a chance you'll relent ...

        • irrational 2 months ago

          Tried that when he was very young (and have tried it again many times since), didn't work. He doesn't care about food. He will literally allow himself to starve to death before eating something he doesn't want to eat.

    • nitwit005 2 months ago

      Its uncommon, but there are kids that will genuinely starve themselves if you try that.

    • sjg007 2 months ago

      This strategy does not work with all children.

    • raverbashing 2 months ago


      Stop buying nuggets and start putting real food on the table

      Does't want to eat? Too bad, maybe next time

      This is the same behaviour as with morbidly obese people. If you can't get out of bed by yourself you're not getting food. PERIOD

  • gehsty 2 months ago

    Growing up eating what he wants, not going hungry or worrying about food or his parents health, I’m guessing he’ll be fine! Lots of people go through a long fussy eating stage, and tbh carrots and chicken aren’t that bad :)

  • oarabbus_ 2 months ago

    Sorry that you're going through some challenges with your child, but I do not think it is even remotely fair nor comparable to contrast the situation of your child (who have a parent posting on Hacker News, meaning you're likely making at least some kind of livable if not more-than-livable income) with that of a child whose parent is literally unable to place food on the table. Quite frankly the question is a bit insensitive at best to the latter situation. Did you read the story?

    The mother in the story volunteered at a food bank, because she was afraid and ashamed to apply for the food vouchers themselves, for gods sake - are you serious when you say "I can't help wondering if he will be similarly affected as mentioned in the article"? The child in the article forced his emaciated mother to drink the entire glass of milk in front of him out of fear of her own safety and clear malnourishment. THAT is the trauma and anxiety that damages children growing up, not a mediocre cordon bleu. Does this sound like your situation at all?

    Think about it. Have you ever, in your career, worked late into the night because you WANTED to? Now think about another time you worked very late because you HAD to. There is a massive difference in stress and the effect on mental health.

    In conclusion: yes, it's better to choose to go to bed hungry than to literally be starving and be unable to get food. Your kid is gonna be alright, this is the perfect time to take a step back and be THANKFUL for having what the kids and parents in the story do not have.

    • TACIXAT 2 months ago

      I think this comment is a bit unfair. They weren't belittling the situation in any way. They are concerned about their own kids and posting in a thread about kids and food. You're really tearing into them and I do not think it is warranted.

      • oarabbus_ 2 months ago

        I don't know, it's a bit like reading a bit about ethiopian children who have 3 textbooks from 1994 for 100 students, and chiming in "My friend's kids' school is teaching them computer programming already, but my child's school has no such program and even forces children to share laptops for school assignments. I wonder if he will be left behind?"

        A child and mother who suffer from malnourishment and must rely on food stamps, who had a single glass of milk for dinner, vs. picky eater kid who threw a tantrum and went to sleep hungry instead of eating cordon bleu.

        I have a close family member who has an eating issue like what's described in the comment I was replying to. I also went to high school with several kids who admitted that they grew up waking up in the mornings not knowing if they would eat that day. The situations are not comparable.

        • TACIXAT 2 months ago

          I was a "picky eater" who "threw tantrums" when I was a kid. In college I ate every other day because food made me feel so shitty. Should I never talk about my food-related autoimmune issues because I had the money to go to college? Discussion forums are importantly open to anyone who has a related experience. It sounds like a concerning issue because they stated that their kid is 18" shorter than their peers. I'm glad they posted because in the off chance that their kid is celiac, this comment could change their life (regardless of how much money their parents make).

          Celiac's bodies attack themselves when they eat gluten. This ends up wrecking the small intestine and can lead to nutrients not being absorbed. It also gave me awful sinus headaches which is why (until I became more aware of it) I was incredibly averse to food.

    • WalterBright 2 months ago

      People often forget how good life is in America. Up until recently, I don't think I had ever gone 24 hours without food. (I recently tried intermittent fasting as it's supposed to be good for your health.)

      When the national news is focused on the crisis of someone making a boorish remark, you know life is good in America.

  • rootusrootus 2 months ago

    I think it's extremely unlikely that a fussy eater would starve themselves to the point of actual malnutrition. The fact that he's shorter than his peers is probably unrelated.

  • TACIXAT 2 months ago

    I'm sure it's not universal, but I was super picky growing up and I turned out to be celiac. The food was messing up my body and I think I knew in some way. I wasn't in any way selecting the correct foods, but food was an issue and I was hesitant to try anything new.

  • myth_drannon 2 months ago

    interesting combination, totally different textures. I'm surprised feeding clinic didn't help. It's not like he has dysphagia or something.

  • radicalbyte 2 months ago

    ..and here I am getting irritated that my 5-year-old doesn't eat courgette or broccoli (whilst his 3-year-old sister eats everything)..

  • urbanslug 2 months ago

    Have you tried supplements and multi vitamins? If he won't eat maybe he'll drink it or swallow a pill?

  • ummonk 2 months ago

    Baby carrots and chicken nuggets should give you most of the nutrition you need if you eat enough.

  • icholy 2 months ago

    You have ruined that child.

aaron695 2 months ago

This article just shows how bad food knowledge really is. It borders on dangerous.

Hunger is good. The fat gluttonous lifestyle choice of never being hungry is a disgrace. And thinking kids getting hungry is a direct issue is part of the problem.

But malnutrition in young children (0-2) is the worlds leading leading issue, it's bigger than global warming and all the other first world issues.

But it's also is possibly a large issue in the first world. It could be for instance what the Flynn Effect is. But the FUD in things like this article makes it unlikely we will be able to solve it.

Chris2048 2 months ago

> the UK, the ninth-richest country in the world

Is the UK a country?

Edit: this was rhetorical. It isn't a country!

  • ben_w 2 months ago

    What counts as a country varies depending on who you ask. You’re the first person I’ve seen suggest it isn’t a country, but plenty of people argue if it’s also two, three, or four countries.

    (Depending on who you ask: Scotland is the least ambiguous, England is also a country, but Wales is sometimes a country and sometimes a principality of England, and NI is sometimes a region (either ‘occupied by the UK’ or ‘part of the UK’) and sometimes a country).

  • kgermino 2 months ago

    How do you figure that it's not a country? I upvoted when I thought it was a genuine question, but now I wonder what point you're trying to make.

    FWIW, wikipedia says "The United Kingdom (UK),[15] officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain,[note 10] is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland."

    Note the words "sovereign country"

    • jolmg 2 months ago

      And a little further below, it says:

      > The United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

      So, I guess the confusion is in having a country with countries inside. Personally, I don't know what's going on there.

      • ocdtrekkie 2 months ago

        To some degree, this is insanely ambiguous. I would argue in some respects that the EU's members are largely analogous to US states, for a variety of reasons. But the EU's members have the right to leave, maintain their own militaries, and have seats at the UN.

        Whether or not a country is a country is inherently entirely determined by whether or not other countries agree it is a country, and any other distinction between what is and is not a country is largely meaningless.

wazoox 2 months ago

So we're seeing censorship coming back, and authoritarianism, then hunger and preventable diseases, while the oligarchy looks more and more like feudal lords... We seem to be going back to Middle Ages really fast.

  • kentosi 2 months ago

    What do you mean by "reproductive strategies"?

  • unquietcode 2 months ago

    Well sure, but this time it's "Democratic Feudalism".

    • thissocks 2 months ago

      Democratic Socialist Feudalism

donkster 2 months ago

Well. Let's check out the acutal weasel words used in the actual "science paper" : https://www.ucalgary.ca/lmcintyre/files/lmcintyre/hunger%20c...

"Children and youth who experience hunger are more likely to have poorer health, and repeated exposure appears to be particularly toxic. Our findings point to the relevance of food insecurity in childhood as a marker of vulnerability".

No cause and effect proven, folks. Just some correlation. No reason for the government to force feed kids. You think about it and obesity is more of a threat the "hunger and starvation' these. Perhaps our HN Editors can post another "feel sorry for diabetics" post. It's overdue at this point.


blancheneige 2 months ago

TLDR for those of us who have a job?

  • BlackLotus89 2 months ago

    > In one six-year study, McIntyre and colleagues found that young people who had experienced hunger had a significantly higher risk of developing depressive symptoms. And another large analysis showed that children who went hungry were similarly at risk of developing some kind of health problem within the next ten years. Hunger, the researchers wrote, had a “toxic” effect:

    • blancheneige 2 months ago

      Thanks. I wonder if child hunger and subsequent depression are really just two symptomatic manifestations of the same underlying cause (e.g. socioeconomic issues increasing the likelihood of either) rather than being causally related.