HEALTH chiefs have issued a grave warning that children in deprived communities will die younger than their parents if action is not taken against food poverty.
Two health board directors have spoken out in a personal capacity to voice concerns about the rising dependency on food banks and the impact it is having on children’s health.
Dr Linda de Caestecker, director of public health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Professor Alison McCallum, director of public health at NHS Lothian have pointed the finger at UK Government welfare reforms.
In a joint statement they said: “Health inequalities persist and in the current economic situation they are increasing.
“We have seen a rise in the need for food banks due to the most punitive welfare system that Scotland has experienced with the likelihood of more and longer benefit sanctions in the future.
“If we do not act today’s children will live shorter and more impoverished lives than their parents.”
Dr De Caestecker commented: “It is the effect on people mental health, as well as on their physical health – what does it mean for you as a person if you have to go along and ask for an emergency food package?
“It’s dispiriting, it makes you lack hope and wonder if things will ever change.”
She added: “Our huge concern is that, if things continued the way they are, those living in the most disadvantaged circumstances, their children will grow up in poorer health than their parents.”
The stark statement has been welcomed by John Dickie, director of Child Poverty Action.
He said: “We are certainly seeing lots of evidence of families being pushed into acute income financial crisis and literally being left without food and needing to use food banks.”
He added: “We will all end up picking up the cost in years to come.”
A Department for Works and Pensions spokesman said: “There is no solid evidence of a link between welfare reforms and the use of food banks.”