Food insecurity and household eating patterns among vulnerable American-Indian families: Associations with caregiver and food consumption characteristics

Britta Mullany, Nicole Neault, Danielle Tsingine, Julia Powers, Ventura Lovato, Lena Clitso, Sheree Massey, Adrienne Talgo, Kristen Speakman, Allison Barlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective To identify factors associated with food insecurity and household eating patterns among American-Indian families with young children. Design Cross-sectional survey among households with young children that were receiving emergency food services. We collected information on food insecurity levels, household eating patterns, experiences with commercial and community food sources and demographics, and used multivariate regression techniques to examine associations among these variables. Setting Four Southwestern American-Indian reservation communities. Subjects A total of 425 parents/caregivers of young children completed the survey. Results Twenty-nine per cent of children and 45 % of adults from households participating in the survey were classified as 'food insecure'. Larger household size was associated with increased food insecurity and worse eating patterns. Older respondents were more likely than younger respondents to have children with food insecurity (relative risk = 2·19, P < 0·001) and less likely to have healthy foods available at home (relative risk = 0·45, P < 0·01). Consumption of food from food banks, gas station/convenience stores or fast-food restaurants was not associated with food insecurity levels. Respondents with transportation barriers were 1·46 times more likely to be adult food insecure than respondents without transportation barriers (P < 0·001). High food costs were significantly associated with greater likelihoods of adult (relative risk = 1·47, P < 0·001) and child (relative risk = 1·65, P < 0·001) food insecurity. Conclusions Interventions for American-Indian communities must address challenges such as expense and limited transportation to accessing healthy food. Results indicate a need for services targeted to older caregivers and larger households. Implications for innovative approaches to promoting nutrition among American-Indian communities, including mobile groceries and community gardening programmes, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)752-760
Number of pages9
JournalPublic health nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013


  • American Indian
  • Early childhood
  • Food insecurity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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