Mentoring Kids in Poverty May Help Improve Their Health


Children in Poverty have known been show to have more risk factors for chronic illness than children not in poverty.  Past studies and research has shown that chronic psychological and the physical stress of poverty produces elevated stress hormones which harms the health of the body. A recent study shows how mentoring kids in poverty may help improve their wellbeing and health longterm.

This particular study looked at the overall health of 420 African-American 19 year-olds who got annual check ups between the years of 2000-2001, when they were 11 years old. The researchers looked at the Allostatic load, which is the physical toll that chronic stress has on the body. This can be measured by adding the blood pressure, body mass, and levels of certain compounds like cortisol (stress hormone).  The researchers also collected data on their economic conditions as well as the childrens’ interaction with their caregivers. This allowed researchers to see the amount of emotional support the children received.

After a 10 year period, the researchers did a follow-up portion in the study and saw that 284 out of the 420 children had remained the same. The number of households in the area that were living in poverty had increase from 22 percent at the begging of the study in 2000, to 25 percent in 2010. The researchers observed that the teens living in poverty during the study period had the highest allostatic load and put them at the greatest risk for chronic diseases later in life.  This study shows more evidence on the links between factors like family income that could influence the child’s health.

However, the children that had strong emotional support while living in worsening poverty had less of a risk developing chronic diseases later in life. This study reveals that while you may live in poor conditions its important to create strong emotional ties and have emotional support because it can make all the difference in one’s life. Having a strong support system is part of living a health balance life.

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