November 2015 Newsletter

Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to The Root Cause Coalition’s first monthly e-newsletter!

As a colleague who shares a mutual interest and passion about addressing the most basic needs of all individuals, I am happy to announce the recent establishment of The Root Cause Coalition; an organization whose focus is to address hunger as a health issue and other social determinants of health.


To see more photos of our October 21st launch, click here.

The Root Cause Coalition was co-founded by AARP Foundation and ProMedica, a not-for-profit, mission based health system in Toledo, Ohio. These two organizations have worked independently in their respective fields to serve the most vulnerable and fragile populations; older adults, and patients of all ages who lack access to the basic essentials that affect individual and community health.

These basic needs have more than a basic impact on an individual’s health. In fact, it’s estimated that hunger’s impact and cost to U.S. healthcare is in excess of $130 billion annually. And today, with more than 17.5 million U.S. households facing hunger – or one in seven nationwide lacking nutritious food, we face a dire public health crisis. The bottom line: food insecurity is a national health issue and takes an incalculable toll on individuals of every age; from pregnant women and infants to the elderly.

By collectively addressing the root causes of basic health issues, we can help build sustainable solutions and resources in every community throughout our nation. The Root Cause Coalition has an ambitious agenda that is surpassed only  by the motivation of our members. The work ahead can be viewed in two ways: too much to accomplish or too important to ignore. We’ve chosen the latter and look forward to what we can all accomplish together.

In gratitude for all you do for those in need,


Barbara J. Petee
Executive Director
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Research Highlights

Do you know exactly how many families deal with food insecurity every year? This fall, the USA released their early report detailing the estimated percentages of U.S. households that were food insecure in 2014. The study includes specific information on children’s health as well as revealing which demographic groups are more likely to have higher rates of food insecurity. To read the report, click here.

While a great deal of research about food insecurity deals with children and families, the AARP has recently released an updated report that uniquely focuses on food insecurity among older adults. This report contains data on overall levels of food insecurity in adults aged 40 and older and also examines the impact demographic characteristics have on rates of food insecurity. To read the report, click here.

Food insecurity issues are influenced by the social determinants of health; the conditions in which people live, that are influenced by the distribution of money and resources. The CDC offers a report discussing these social determinants and providing case studies of communities working to achieve health equity. For more information about developing initiatives that focus on the social determinants of health, click here.

Making the Medical Connection

Could Childhood Obesity be Linked with Food Insecurity?
by Chloe Plummer, MS, RD, LD, Clinical Dietitian, ProMedica

Childhood obesity is far from being a new topic in American news headline. Researchers and healthcare professionals have worked for decades to uncover what leads to obesity in youth and what factors can be altered to treat or event prevent obesity. Everything from drinking soda and sugary drinks to genetics to a lack of physical activity and watching too much television have been blamed for the obesity epidemic that continues to plague America. As we’ve discovered, though, obesity is quite complicated.

As we continue to explore this complex web that is childhood obesity, we find that food insecurity may be an important piece of the puzzle. One recent study of interest looked at the link between food insecurity and obesity among American adolescents aged 12 to 18. Youth in families that were marginally food secure or had low food security were 1.4 times more likely to be overweight compared to those in families that had high food security. In addition, youth from marginally food secure households were 1.3 times more likely to be obese compared to those in food secure households. Finally, central obesity, as defined by waist circumference measures, was 1.4 to 1.5 times more likely in youth from marginally food secure and food insecure households compared to youth from food secure.

Unfortunately, food insecurity disproportionately affects households with children across the country. Approximately 14.3% of all households are considered food insecure, whereas 19.5% of households with children are considered food insecure. It is important to continue to explore the connection between food insecurity and health, especially among American youth. This may help us to better understand how obesity develops, and thus how to effectively address this health concern in food insecure families.

The Root Cause Coalition newsletter is published monthly to provide updates on our work in addressing the social determinants of health, with specific emphasis on hunger as a public health issue, and our work on improving the health status of individuals and communities. To join our growing community, or if you would like more information, please be sure to visit our website at or contact us at [email protected] or [email protected].