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Food insecurity in adolescence linked to riskier sexual behavior

Cafeteria at Lamphere High School.
Bill Walsh

Think for a moment of a teenager's appetite. Immediately, jokes about a bottomless pit come to mind.

That appetite has a purpose — it’s fueled by the burst in growth and development happening to that teen. But what happens when teens don't have access to a stable food source?

Sharon Kukla-Acevedo, an associate professor of public administration at Central Michigan University, has been doing research on just that. She joined Stateside to talk to us about her latest research on the effect of food insecurity during adolescence.

Food insecurity during childhood has been well-documented, said Kukla-Acevedo, but researchers are finding it also has significant consequences for adolescents. One surprising finding is that hunger during the teen years is associated with riskier sexual behavior. 

"There is an association with the number of children that that individual has if they felt that food insecurity during their adolescent years," explained Kukla-Acevedo. 

To hear more about the effect of hunger on teenagers, and why teenagers are sometimes more susceptible to hunger than younger siblings, listen above.

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