142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Are long-term education and early pregnancy outcomes associated with child hunger distinct from other poverty outcomes?

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 4:50 PM - 5:10 PM

Lynn McIntyre, MD, MHSc, FRCPC , Dept. of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Valerie C Fleisch, PhD , Dept. of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Scott Patten, MD, FRCPC, PhD , Department of Community Health Sciences and Hodgkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
INTRODUCTION: Child hunger, also known as very low food security, represents an adverse experience associated with growing up in poverty. Lifecourse theories suggest that the childhood hunger experience could have latent, cumulative and intersecting effects on adult outcomes due to both severe psychosocial stress as well as potential nutritional deprivation. The objective of this study was to model the independent contribution of the child hunger experience to subsequent high school graduation and early pregnancy, in consideration of other indicators of child poverty.

METHODS: Using logistic regression, we analyzed 15468 cohort members from the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth with data on the experience of hunger (measured as a single question) and other exposures drawn from NLSCY Cycle 1(1994) through Cycle 7 (2006/2007), and outcomes drawn from Cycle 8 (2008/2009).  

RESULTS: The prevalence of child hunger was 5.7% in the cohort whose mean age was 20 years after 16 years of follow up.  Child hunger was independently predictive of high school dropout with odds of 1.79 (95% CI 1.05-3.05) in a model that also identified male sex, always lived in rental accommodation, ever lived with a lone mother, lower permanent household income, rural residence, and low maternal education, as significant. Early pregnancy outcomes for both men and women were significantly associated with similar exposures but not with child hunger experience.

CONCLUSIONS: Child hunger appears to be an independent risk factor for high school dropout, over and above other indicators of child poverty.  The prevention of children from living in very low food security circumstances is of paramount importance. Remedying their circumstances early in their schooling may also be an avenue to improving educational outcomes and subsequent life chances.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Identify long-term outcomes of child hunger as ascertained by parental report or youth self-report Differentiate the long-term outcomes of common poverty indicators from outcomes that appear to be associately uniquely with parental report of child hunger or youth self-report of hunger

Keyword(s): Children and Adolescents, Epidemiology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Principal Investigator in this long-term program of work and have received national, competitive funding for the project. There have been many papers on this cohort that preceded this work. I am a Professor and long-term researcher with well over 100 publications and several million dollars of career funding.
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.