The cost of living crisis is already impacting the health and wellbeing of children and young people, according to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).
A survey found that 60% of paediatricians in the UK believe they are seeing an increase in mental health issues, an increase in poor nutrition and an increase in families unable to attend medical appointments.
The RCPCH described health inequalities as avoidable, unfair and systematic differences in health outcomes between different groups of babies, children and young people, largely due to child poverty.
Health inequalities across the lifespan take root in childhood and impact a person’s future, according to the RCPCH, which says data consistently shows that poverty and inequality affect education , housing, social environment and health outcomes.
And things look to be getting worse as the Resolution Foundation suggests Scotland’s child poverty rate will hit 29% by 2023/24, the highest in over 20 years, but that estimate predates the current crisis.
Dr Mairi Stark, RCPCH Scotland Lead, said: “In a wealthy society like ours, it is completely unacceptable for children and their families to lack food, shelter, clothing and fuel.
“This winter’s cost of living crisis has created a perfect storm where health inequalities are set to worsen. This will undoubtedly destroy the lives of children and young people, taking away opportunities and preventing them from reaching their full potential.
“The resources released today by the RCPCH will provide paediatricians with the tools they need to make concrete differences and real improvements in the lives of children and young people, but poverty must also be tackled through policy. To help Scottish families weather the cost of living crisis and tackle the insidious inequalities in our country, the child poverty targets must be met.