215413 Effect of a recessionary economy on food choices among middle aged women with children: Implications for health education and services

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 4:50 PM - 5:10 PM

Paul Wesley Branscum, MS, RD, LD , Health Promotion and Education, The University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
Carla Miller, PhD, RD, LD , Department of Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Federal records confirm the U.S. economy has been in a recession and unemployment rates have nearly doubled recently. In 2008, the consumer price index for all foods increased 5.5%, the highest annual increase in the past decade. Many families can no longer afford to buy the same foods as they could before and are relying on more government assistance. The purpose of this study was to determine how families have been affected by the economic downturn and whether they modified their food shopping and eating habits. Women, 25-55 years of age, with children less than 18 years old who experienced a financial crisis in the past 12 months (i.e., loss of job) (n=25) were recruited for semi-structured interviews. During the interview, they were asked to recall factors influencing their current food purchases and changes made in the past 12 months. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and open-coded to identify reoccurring themes. Women reported using new strategies to save money, including changes in their normal grocery shopping behaviors and trying to control food waste. Reported changes in dietary habits included buying less luxury foods, including fresh produce and expensive cuts of meat, and relying more on versatile foods like ground beef and canned foods. Women also requested resources to better manage their household food budget and help with cooking meals from raw ingredients instead of relying on convenience foods. Results from the qualitative study will help identify areas for intervention to effectively help this at-risk group.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe changes in food management strategies among families who have recently experienced a financial crisis. Describe changes in eating habits among families who have recently experienced a financial crisis. Identify resources that may be helpful for families who have recently experienced a financial crisis.

Keywords: Food Security, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a PhD student in the Health Promotion and Education program at the University of Cincinnati, and I am also a registered dietitian.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.