Childhood adversity and adult reports of food insecurity among households with children

Jing Sun, Molly Knowles, Falguni Patel, Deborah A. Frank, Timothy C. Heeren, Mariana Chilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction Exposure to childhood adversity, including abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction, is associated with negative long-term health and economic outcomes. Little is known about how adversity exposure in parents' early lives may be related to later food insecurity for parents and their children. This study investigated the association between female caregivers' adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and household and child food insecurity, taking into account depressive symptoms. Methods This study used cross-sectional data from 1,255 female caregivers of children aged <4 years surveyed in an urban clinical setting from March 2012 through June 2014. Measures included sociodemographic characteristics; caregivers' ACEs, including abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction; depressive symptoms; and household and child food insecurity. Multinomial and logistic regression analyses assessed the relationship among ACEs, depressive symptoms, and household and child food security status. Results Caregiver depressive symptoms modified associations between ACEs and food insecurity level. After adjusting for covariates, caregivers reporting both depressive symptoms and four or more ACEs were 12.3 times as likely to report low food security (95% CI=6.2, 24.7); 28.8 times as likely to report very low food security (95% CI=12.8, 64.8); and 17.6 times as likely to report child food insecurity (95% CI=7.3, 42.6) compared with those reporting no depressive symptoms and no ACEs. Conclusions Depressive symptoms and ACEs were independently associated with household and child food insecurity, and depressive symptoms modified the association between ACEs and household and child food insecurity. Comprehensive policy interventions incorporating nutrition assistance and behavioral health may address intergenerational transmission of disadvantage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-572
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Volume50
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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