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Food Inequality

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Studies of food and childhood offer critical insights into the unequal social systems that structure young people’s lives, with significant implications for their physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Food is at once deeply personal and fundamentally social: a reservoir of individual tastes, memories, and identities, and enmeshed in markets, institutions, and historically constituted relations of power. Children’s food lives take shape in a landscape of stark inequalities, including economic injustice, structural racism, and gendered care responsibilities and body pressures. These systemic issues deeply impact young people’s well-being yet are seldom acknowledged in dominant discourses of healthy eating that emphasize individual choice. Connected to understandings of self and culture, food is also a powerful resource in the everyday work of negotiating identities and forging connections through interactions with others.


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Correspondence to Kate Cairns .

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Cairns, K. (2021). Food Inequality. In: Lester, J.N., O'Reilly, M. (eds) The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Critical Perspectives on Mental Health. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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