269442 Lacking in the land of plenty: Understanding coping strategies used by the food insecure

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 1:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Andrea Anater, PhD, MPH, MA , Food and Nutrition Policy Research, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC
James Nonnemaker, PhD , Public Health Policy Research, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC
Rita McWilliams, PhD, MPH , Food Policy Institute, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ
Socially disadvantaged individuals disproportionately experience limited or uncertain availability of safe nutritionally adequate foods and face barriers to food acquisition. Chronic or intermittent food insecurity is incompatible with good physical and mental health. To maintain an adequate household food supply, individuals resort to using coping strategies that can result in inadequate nutrient intake; consumption of unsafe foods; and engagement in financial, food safety, illegal/regulatory, nutritional, physically risky strategies. NJ residents (n=492) were interviewed at 50 randomly selected Emergency Food Provider sites about sociodemographics and use of 78 coping strategies. Descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression modeling was performed to describe this population, examine associations, and identify predictors of risky strategy use. 77% of respondents were unemployed, 42% Black (14% NJ, US Census), 58% had monthly household incomes <$99; of these, 17% reported earning <$50/month. 52% of coping strategies posed risks (19% nutritional, 16% food safety, 10% financial, 6% illegal/regulatory, and 1% physical). Very low food secure (VLFS) individuals used at least 6 times more coping strategies than individuals at all other levels of food security. VLFS predicted increased use of risky coping strategies with greater prospects for financial, food safety, illegal/regulatory, and nutritional risks than even those at a low food-security level. Quantifying, categorizing and recognizing likely users of certain strategies can provide researchers, advocates, and policy makers with actionable information to address the disproportionally high rates of food insecurity threatening the health of those who are socially disadvantaged and in so doing reduce health disparities.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe a food insecure population. 2. Describe potentially risky food acquisition coping strategies used by socially disadvantaged populations. 3.Identify socio-demographic predictors of use of risky coping strategies. 4.Discuss the benefits of knowing the risky coping strategies used by the food-insecure and predictors of their use.

Keywords: Health Disparities, Food Security

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a behavioral scientist with extensive experience examining behavioral, social and structural factors that are associated with and impact health disparity. I was responsible for all aspects of the research design, data collection and analysis of this project.
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.