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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: The prevalence of food insecurity and associated factors among households with children in Head Start programs in Houston, Texas and Birmingham, Alabama)

item Stuff, Janice
item Lacour, Michelle
item Du, Xianglin
item Franklin, Frank
item Liu, Yan
item Hughes, Sheryl
item Peters, Ron
item Nicklas, Theresa

Submitted to: Race, Gender and Class
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/1/2009
Publication Date: 7/1/2009
Citation: Stuff, J.E., LaCour, M., Du, X., Franklin, F., Liu, Y., Hughes, S., Peters, R., Nicklas, T.A. 2009. The prevalence of food insecurity and associated factors among households with children in Head Start programs in Houston, Texas and Birmingham, Alabama. Race, Gender & Class Journal. 16(3-4):31-47.

Interpretive Summary: This study helped to identify the personal and demographic characteristics of families enrolled in Head Start who are most vulnerable to food insecurity. This information helps individuals and organizations to better design and provide interventions to reduce food insecurity in this population. Food insecurity, defined as the limited availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or the limited ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways can affect the nutritional status, health, developmental and social outcomes of children. The families who are most vulnerable to food insecurity need to be characterized, so programs may be designed to prevent food insecurity and potential harmful effects on children. Interviewers used questionnaires to obtain information with permission about families and children attending Head Start Centers. One questionnaire contained questions related to the household food insecurity. We used appropriate statistical tests to measure the responses to questionnaires, and to determine whether households differed by race, marriage status, place of birth, gender, and education level for food insecurity status.

Technical Abstract: This study measured food security and hunger of households enrolled in Head Start in Houston, Texas, and Birmingham, Alabama and assessed factors that could affect food security. Interviewers collected data from primary caregivers on demographic characteristics, dietary intake, and the six-item US food security module. The prevalence of food insecurity of 688 households with Head Start children was 34.9%, or twice that of the national average among households with children in 2004 (17.6%). Moreover, the prevalence of food insecurity for households of White children (34.1%) and of Hispanic children (50.8%) exceeded by two-fold the national averages for the same race/ethnic groups, whereas the prevalence among African American households (24.8%) was similar to the nationwide average. Within the study sample, there were significant differences in the race/ethnicity for food security status. Households with U. S. born caregivers had significantly lower percentages of food insecurity (28.6% food insecure) than households with foreign-born caregivers (50.3% food insecure). This study identified groups most vulnerable to food insecurity, and the continual need to monitor food security among participants in Head Start.

Last Modified: 05/24/2017
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