132 Annual Meeting Logo - Go to APHA Meeting Page  
APHA Logo - Go to APHA Home Page

High levels of food insecurity and hunger in the Pacific Northwest: An empirical investigation of social and economic causes

Stephanie Bernell, PhD, Department of Public Health, Oregon State University, 319 Waldo Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331-6406, 541-737-9162, stephanie.bernell@oregonstate.edu

Objectives: Previous research has mainly focused on personal/household characteristics (i.e., age, family structure, income) as determinants of food insecurity and hunger. We hypothesize that the social and economic characteristics of the location in which people live also determine food insecurity and hunger (after controlling for personal/household characteristics). This study explored the relationship between social/economic characteristics of counties in the state of Oregon and the rate of food insecurity and hunger. Methods: We analyzed data from the 2000 Oregon Population Survey (OPS) using logistic regression models. The OPS surveyed approximately 5,000 individuals (3,600 households) in 36 counties. Personal/household characteristics (i.e., marital status, income, race, education, disability) and county characteristics (i.e., unemployment rates, urbanicity, cost of living, child care costs) were included in the analysis. Results: With respect to social and economic factors, a high cost of living relative to individual income, a high unemployment rate, and high levels of urbanicity significantly increase the probability of hunger. Personal and household characteristics significantly associated with higher rates of hunger include single parenthood for females, the presence of a disability, and moving within the last 5 years. Individuals who are black and individuals without health insurance have a higher probability of being food insecure; however, these factors are not significantly related to hunger. Conclusion: Changes in the unemployment rate and adequacy of local wages need to be closely monitored in order to anticipate (and potentially avert) increases in food insecurity and hunger. In addition, characteristics unique to rural areas, which contribute to lower hunger rates, need to be identified by future researchers for potential replication in more urban environments.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Hunger

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Food Insecurity: Access, Federal Food Program Participation and Health

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA