Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Delta Obesity Prevention Research

Title: Children's experiences of food insecurity can assist in understanding its effect on their well-being

item Connell, Carol
item Lofton, Kristi
item Yadrick, Kathy
item Rehner, Timothy

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/13/2012
Publication Date: 6/13/2012
Citation: Connell, C.L., Lofton, K.L., Yadrick, K.L., Rehner, T.A. 2012. Children's experiences of food insecurity can assist in understanding its effect on their well-being. In: Dufour, D.L., Goodman, A.H., Pelto, G.H., editors. Nutritional Anthropology: Biocultural Perspectives on Food and Nutrition. 2nd edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 442-451.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: An understanding of the experience of food insecurity by children is essential for better measurement and assessment of its effect on children's nutritional, physical, and mental health. Our qualitative study explored children's perceptions of household food insecurity to identify these perceptions and to use these to establish components of children's food insecurity experience. Children (n=32; 11-16 year old) from after-school programs and a middle school in low income areas participated in individual semi-structured in-depth interviews. Children as young as 11 years could describe behaviors associated with food insecurity if they had experienced it directly or indirectly. Using the constant comparative method of qualitative data analysis, children’s descriptions of behaviors associated with food insecurity were categorized into components of quantity of food, quality of food, psychological aspects, and social aspects described in the household food security literature. Aspects of quantity included eating less than usual and eating more or eating faster when food was available. Aspects of quality included use of a few kinds of low cost foods. Psychological aspects included worry/anxiety/sadness about the family food supply, feelings of having no choice in the foods eaten, shame/fear of being labeled as poor, and attempts to shield children. Social aspects of food insecurity centered on using social networks to acquire food or money, and social exclusion. These results provide valuable information in understanding the effect of food insecurity on children's well-being, especially relative to the social and emotional aspects of well-being.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page