Household food insecurity and school readiness among preschool-aged children in the USA

Dylan B. Jackson, Alexander Testa, Daniel C. Semenza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: The present study examines the association between mild and moderate-to-severe household food insecurity and school readiness among a nationally representative sample of preschool-aged children. Design: Cross-sectional data pertaining to household food availability as well as four domains of school readiness - early learning skills, self-regulation, social-emotional development and physical health & motor development - were employed. Setting: The USA. Participants: 15 402 children aged 3-5 years from the 2016-2018 National Survey of Children's Health. Results: Both mild and moderate-to-severe food insecurity are associated with an increase in needing support or being at-risk in each of the four school readiness domains, particularly Self-Regulation (IRR = 4.31; CI 2.68, 6.95) and Social-Emotional Development (IRR = 3.43; CI 2.16, 5.45). Furthermore, while nearly half of the children in food-secure households are on-track across all four school readiness domains (47.49 %), only one in four children experiencing moderate-to-severe household food insecurity is on-track across all domains (25.26 %). Conclusions: Household food insecurity is associated with reductions in school readiness among preschool-aged children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1469-1477
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • Children
  • Household food insecurity
  • Preschool
  • School readiness


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