Food insecurity and vegetable consumption

Stephanie Grutzmacher, Susan Gross, Ashley Munger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Over 14.7% of U.S. households experienced food insecurity in 2009, while 21.3% of households with children under 18 and 22.9% of households with children under six were food insecure (Nord and Coleman-Jensen, 2010). In about 40% of food insecure households, one or more family members has experienced disruptions in normal eating patterns and reduced food intake due to limited resources. Low-income households are, unsurprisingly, less likely to purchase vegetables due to cost and availability and more likely to purchase affordable, energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods, which contain refined carbohydrates, added fats, and added sugars. Despite the availability of low-cost vegetable options in many communities, low-income mothers responsible for food purchasing and preparation perceive cost as a substantial barrier to vegetable consumption. Food insecurity may exacerbate some of the worrisome shopping and food consumption patterns observed in low-income households. One recent study of Latino households showed that household food insecurity was associated with lower quantities and less variety of fruits and vegetables in the home. Food insecurity is also related to decreased consumption of fruits and vegetables among adults as household resources deplete. Some studies have shown links between food insecurity and poor behavioral and academic outcomes for children, while other studies identified connections between parental psychological distress, family dysfunction, and low parent and child vegetable consumption. While few studies have attempted to parse out the causal pathway linking these various factors, it is possible that the stressful experiences and limited choices associated with poverty and food security undermine parents' abilities to access, afford, and provide healthful foods in the context of limited resources. Literature linking food insecurity with low vegetable consumption, however, is inconclusive, underscoring the need for improvements in study design to examine causal relationships between poverty, food insecurity, and vegetable consumption. In this chapter, we review the current state of knowledge on the indeterminate relationship between food security status and vegetable consumption, addressing the role of culture, the importance of safety net programs, and methodological issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationVegetable Consumption and Health
Subtitle of host publicationNew Research
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781621009412
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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