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Lost productivity, hospitalizations among highest new costs

The pace, extent, and range of technical methods used in food security research has advanced considerably in just the past decade. Cook and Poblacion cover new ground in this study, incorporating an additional $41.07 billion in health and education costs of hunger that were previously uncounted. The graphic below outlines where the new costs come from.

Yawning gaps remain

Despite the new ground covered in this report, there remains a great number of health conditions whose hunger costs are still unknown and thus uncounted. Some of these conditions include obesity and overweight, various forms of cancer, micronutrient deficiencies, and mental health problems. See the graphic above. Higher hospital readmission rates are another costly byproduct of hunger that was not counted in this study due to insufficient research.

The gaps in the research literature indicate how much more work needs to be done. The wide scope of conditions and costs not included leads us to believe that they add up to a staggering additional amount. Hunger and food insecurity are clearly driving up healthcare costs in a significant way.

By 2040, health care is expected to consume 25 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, up from the current 17 percent. Compared to other options to help control this growth, ensuring that every person in the country has enough food to be healthy should be a relatively simple one that lawmakers and health providers would be wise to pursue.

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