Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.S. in Food and Nutrition Services

Department

Nutrition and Hospitality Management

First Advisor

David H. Holben

Second Advisor

Georgianna Mann

Third Advisor

Anne K. Bomba

Abstract

Household food insecurity has been associated with poor physical health and behavioral and psychological problems in children. This study examined differences in parent/caregiver-perceived child health and parent/caregiver-reported behavioral and psychological problems by food security status of elementary school children (Kindergarten through 6th grade) living in rural, Appalachian Mississippi. This study used a cross-sectional survey of elementary school parents/caregivers recruited at three elementary schools in an economically-distressed Appalachian MS county. Data were analyzed using IBM SPSS (versions 23, 2015) to assess for differences in HLTH (t-test), BEHAV (Chi Square), and PSYCH (Chi Square) by household food security status. The relationship of HFSS to HLTH, BEHAV, and PSYCH (Kendall’s taub ) was also assessed. Parent/caregiver participants (n=467/1144, 41% response rate) were 34±8 years. Tables 6 and 7 describe participant characteristics. Participants were predominately female (n=425/461, 92%), White (n=264/465, 56.8%), married (n= 243/453, 53.6%) and educated with some college or higher (n=256/451, 55.5%). Regarding food security status, 72.6% of participants were food secure, and 17.4% of participants were food insecure. Parent/caregiver- perceived child health was significantly higher in those living in food secure (4.1 ± 0.9), compared to food insecure households (3.8 ± 0.9) (p=.011). Those living in fully food secure households had significantly higher perceived general health (4.1 ± 0.9), compared to those living in not fully food secure households (3.9 ± 0.8) (p=.003). As food security worsened, health worsened (r= -.096, p=.042). A greater proportion of children living in food insecure households, compared to food secure households had parent/caretaker reported behavioral problems (p=.009). A greater proportion of children living in not fully food secure, compared to fully food secure households had parent/caretaker reported behavioral problems (p=.012). There were no differences between psychological problems and food secure, compared to food insecure households (p=.676). No significant differences were observed between parent/guardian reported psychological problems and those living in fully food secure, compared to not fully food secure households (p= .551). Household food security status was significantly correlated with behavioral problems (tau b = -0.126, p=.004), but not psychological problems (tau b = -0.032, p=.472). Exploring nutrition interventions in schools and communities that help to alleviate household food insecurity is warranted.

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Nutrition Commons

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