Online Program

Cumulative risk and food insecurity

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 1:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.

Nicole O'Reilly, MSSW, PhD Candidate, School of Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD
Maureen Black, PhD, Department of Pediatrics and Department of Epidemiology and Public Health and Chief, Division of Growth and Nutrition, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Erin Hager, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, Growth and Nutrition Division and Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Donna Harrington, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Maryland Baltimore, Baltimore
Introduction: Food insecurity is a national public health concern, impacting more than 20% of U.S. households with children, with higher rates among low-income, minority, and female-headed households.  Attempts to identify specific modifiable risk factors have had limited success. This study examined how a cumulative index of demographic and mental health factors relates to household food insecurity (FI).    

Methods: Adolescent girls (n=789) were recruited from urban schools serving low-income families.  Caregivers completed self-administered surveys: demographics, FI screen, Perceived Stress Scale, and Beck Depression Inventory–II.  A cumulative risk index (CRI) score was created by summing nine dichotomized factors: race, poverty, marital status, household type, education, employment, depression, stress, and smoking. Logistic regression was used to examine risk of FI in relation to CRI.

Results: 450 caregivers (57%) completed surveys.  Fifty-two percent were at-risk for FI. Risks included 93% Black/Latino, 86% living in poverty , 73% single, 61%  female head-of-household, 16% non-high school completion, 41% underemployed/unemployed, 16% moderate/severe depression, 30% high stress, and 38% household smoker. Mean CRI was 4.52 (SD = 1.7).  Each additional risk factor was associated with 33% higher odds of FI (OR = 1.33, p< .001).

Discussion: Families experiencing multiple risks are at increased risk for household FI. Reducing risk by targeting modifiable risks (e.g., smoking, stress, and depression) may reduce household FI. However, many risk factors are not modifiable, suggesting that policy changes that address systemic disparities may be necessary to reduce FI.

Learning Areas:

Program planning
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the cumulative effect of risk factors associated with food insecurity. Identify key points of intervention for families at high risk for food insecurity.

Keyword(s): Food Security, Risk Factors/Assesment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a PhD candidate working in maternal and child health, with research focusing on access to health and nutrition, particularly for low income families and children. My experience includes a pre-doctoral teaching fellowship with the Center for Maternal and Child Health Social Work Education, work with an interdisciplinary research group in the School of Medicine, and prior work experience in community health research and behavioral health work with children and families.
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.