April 14/Sydney, Australia/AAP -- Children who lack access to healthy foods, particularly fruit and vegetables, are twice as likely to develop behavioral problems, a Queensland study found.

A Queensland University of Technology Institute of Health study surveyed 500 households across Brisbane in 2009 and released the findings this week.

Researcher Rebecca Ramsey found one in four households goes without healthy food because of low income levels.

She said the study asked participants about their vegetable and fruit intake.

"It is not that these households are spending their limited money on junk food. It is more that they are unable to afford a variety of fruit and vegetables and instead may be purchasing larger quantities of staples such as rice and bread," she said.

Food insecure households were between 25-40% less likely to consume the recommended servings of fruit and between 15-25% less likely to consume adequate servings of vegetables, she said.

"Children are two and half times more like to display (behavioral problems) if they live in a food insecure household," she said.

She said a unhealthy diet could affect children's behavior and social skills.

Ramsey said nationally food insecurity affected 5% of the population but the National Health Survey which monitors the figure was from 2004.

"But one of the big problems with this measurement is that the latest figures are from 2004, so the impact of the global financial crisis remains unknown," she said.

From the April 13, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.