Submitted to: Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/19/2005
Publication Date: 4/2/2005
Citation: Connell, C., Lofton, K., Yadrick, K., Rehner, T. 2005. Through the eyes of a child: children's conceptualizations of food insecurity and hunger [abstract]. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. 19(5):A774. Abstract No. 449.8
Technical Abstract: A conceptualization of the experience of food insecurity (FI) by children is essential for better measurement and assessment of its impact children's nutritional, physical and mental health. Our qualitative study explored children's perceptions of household FI to (1) to determine age at which children become aware of the food supply situation at home and (2) to use their perceptions to establish concepts and components of children's FI experiences. Thirty-two children aged 11-16 y from after school programs and a middle school in low income areas participated in individual semi-structured in-depth interviews. Pretest indicated children <11 y did not have a good understanding of the food situation at home. Children as young as 11 y could describe behaviors associated with FI if they had direct or indirect experience with it. Using the constant comparative method of qualitative data analysis, children's descriptions of behaviors associated with FI were categorized into concepts of quantity of food, quality of food, psychological aspects and social aspects of FI. Aspects of quantity included cutting/skipping meals and cyclical eating. Aspects of quality included use of a few kinds of low cost foods. Psychological aspects included worry/anxiety about the family food supply, feelings of deprivation/lack of choice, and secrecy/embarrassment. Social aspects of FI included sharing of food and shielding of younger children. These concepts provide valuable information in understanding the impact of FI on children's wellbeing. ERS/USDA Coop Agreement # 43-3AEM-2-80033, ARS/USDA Coop Agreement #6251-53000-003-00D.