Food insecurity (FI) has been recognized as a public challenge not only for developing countries but also for the U.S. population. The present study was designed to identify the prevalence of FI and the association of household FI with the health status of pediatric patients seen at a Federally Qualified Health Center in New Jersey which provides health care mainly for Latino patients. Patients were included if they were screened for FI at their well visits during a 4-month period following implementation of the 2-item screening tool recommended by American Academy of Pediatrics. We compared demographic and morbidity data of children with FI to those living in food-secure households. The results are presented as the distribution of frequency (%) and odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence interval (95% CI). FI was detected in 15.8% (95% CI 14.2–17.5%) of 486 studied children. We recorded higher rates of anemia (10.4 vs. 3.2%, p < 0.005), hypercholesterolemia (10.4 vs. 3.4%, p < 0.01), and any morbidity (24.7 vs. 9.3%, p < 0.02) in children living in FI households. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed an association of household FI with at least one recorded morbidity independent of the patient’s age, gender, and body mass index (OR 1.79, 95% CI 1.31–2.43). No one was diagnosed with diabetes, and only a few with asthma and hypertension. We have concluded that living in households with FI increased the risk for unfavorable health outcomes in a predominantly economically disadvantage community of children within the U.S. population.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Food insecurity
- Health outcome