Economic determinants and dietary consequences of food insecurity in the United States.
This paper reviews recent research on the economic determinants and dietary consequences of food insecurity and hunger in the United States. The new Current Population Study (CPS) food insecurity and hunger measure shows that hunger rates decline sharply with rising incomes. Despite this strong relationship, confirmed in other national datasets, a one-to-one correspondence between poverty-level incomes and hunger does not exist. In 1995, 13.1% of those in poverty experienced hunger and half of those experiencing hunger had incomes above the poverty level. Panel data indicate that those who are often food insufficient are much more likely than food-sufficient households to have experienced recent events that stress household budgets, such as losing a job, gaining a household member or losing food stamps. Cross-sectional work also demonstrates the importance of food stamps because benefit levels are inversely related to food insufficiency. Concern for the dietary consequences of domestic food insufficiency is well placed; recent research shows that the odds of consuming intakes <50% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) are higher for adult women and elderly individuals from food-insufficient households. Preschoolers from food-insufficient households do not consume significantly lower amounts than those from food-sufficient households, but mean intakes for the rest of members in those very same households are significantly lower for the food insufficient. This research highlights the importance of food insecurity and hunger indicators, further validates the use of self-reported measures and points to areas of need for future research and interventions. (+info)
Food insecurity: consequences for the household and broader social implications.
A conceptual framework showing the household and social implications of food insecurity was elicited from a qualitative and quantitative study of 98 households from a heterogeneous low income population of Quebec city and rural surroundings; the study was designed to increase understanding of the experience of food insecurity in order to contribute to its prevention. According to the respondents' description, the experience of food insecurity is characterized by two categories of manifestations, i.e., the core characteristics of the phenomenon and a related set of actions and reactions by the household. This second category of manifestations is considered here as a first level of consequences of food insecurity. These consequences at the household level often interact with the larger environment to which the household belongs. On a chronic basis, the resulting interactions have certain implications that are tentatively labeled "social implications" in this paper. Their examination suggests that important aspects of human development depend on food security. It also raises questions concerning the nature of socially acceptable practices of food acquisition and food management, and how such acceptability can be assessed. Guidelines to that effect are proposed. Findings underline the relevance and urgency of working toward the realization of the right to food. (+info)
Predicting longitudinal growth curves of height and weight using ecological factors for children with and without early growth deficiency.
Growth curve models were used to examine the effect of genetic and ecological factors on changes in height and weight of 225 children from low income, urban families who were assessed up to eight times in the first 6 y of life. Children with early growth deficiency [failure to thrive (FTT)] (n = 127) and a community sample of children without growth deficiency (n = 98) were examined to evaluate how genetic, child and family characteristics influenced growth. Children of taller and heavier parents, who were recruited at younger ages and did not have a history of growth deficiency, had accelerated growth from recruitment through age 6 y. In addition, increases in height were associated with better health, less difficult temperament, nurturant mothers and female gender; increases in weight were associated with better health. Children with a history of growth deficiency demonstrated slower rates of growth than children in the community group without a history of growth deficiency. In the community group, changes in children's height and weight were related to maternal perceptions of health and temperament and maternal nurturance during feeding, whereas in the FTT group, maternal perceptions and behavior were not in synchrony with children's growth. These findings suggest that, in addition to genetic factors, growth is dependent on a nurturant and sensitive caregiving system. Interventions to promote growth should consider child and family characteristics, including maternal perceptions of children's health and temperament and maternal mealtime behavior. (+info)
Influence of prenatal iron and zinc supplements on supplemental iron absorption, red blood cell iron incorporation, and iron status in pregnant Peruvian women.
BACKGROUND: It is estimated that 60% of pregnant women worldwide are anemic. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to examine the influence of iron status on iron absorption during pregnancy by measuring supplemental iron absorption, red blood cell iron incorporation, and iron status in pregnant women. DESIGN: Subjects were 45 pregnant Peruvian women (33+/-1 wk gestation), of whom 28 received daily prenatal supplements containing 60 mg Fe and 250 microg folate without (Fe group, n = 14) or with (Fe+Zn group, n = 14) 15 mg Zn, which were were consumed from week 10 to 24 of gestation until delivery. The remaining 17 women (control) received no prenatal supplementation. Iron status indicators and isotopes were measured in maternal blood collected 2 wk postdosing with oral (57Fe) and intravenous (58Fe) stable iron isotopes. RESULTS: Maternal serum ferritin and folate concentrations were significantly influenced by supplementation (P < 0.05). Serum iron was also significantly higher in the Fe than in the Fe+Zn (P < 0.03) or control (P < 0.001) groups. However, the supplemented groups had significantly lower serum zinc concentrations than the control group (8.4+/-2.3 and 10.9+/-1.8 micromol/L, respectively, P < 0.01). Although percentage iron absorption was inversely related to maternal serum ferritin concentrations (P = 0.036), this effect was limited and percentage iron absorption did not differ significantly between groups. CONCLUSIONS: Because absorption of nonheme iron was not substantially greater in pregnant women with depleted iron reserves, prenatal iron supplementation is important for meeting iron requirements during pregnancy. (+info)
Geography of intestinal permeability and absorption.
BACKGROUND: Intestinal morphology and function vary geographically. AIMS: These functions were assessed in asymptomatic volunteers in European, North American, Middle Eastern, Asian, African, and Caribbean countries. METHODS: Five hour urine collections were obtained from each subject following ingestion of a 100 ml iso-osmolar test solution containing 3-0-methyl-D-glucose, D-xylose, L-rhamnose, and lactulose after an overnight fast, to assess active (3-0-methyl-D-glucose) and passive (D-xylose) carrier mediated, and non-mediated (L-rhamnose) absorption capacity, as well as intestinal permeability (lactulose:rhamnose ratio). RESULTS: A comparison of results for subjects from tropical countries (n=218) with those resident in the combined temperate and subtropical region (Europe, United States, Qatar) (n=224) showed significant differences. Residents in tropical areas had a higher mean lactulose:rhamnose ratio and lower mean five hour recoveries of 3-0-methyl-D-glucose, D-xylose, and L-rhamnose, indicating higher intestinal permeability and lower absorptive capacity. Investigation of visiting residents suggested that differences in intestinal permeability and absorptive capacity were related to the area of residence. Subjects from Texas and Qatar, although comprised of several ethnic groups and resident in a subtropical area, showed no significant difference from European subjects. CONCLUSIONS: There are clearly demarcated variations in intestinal permeability and absorptive capacity affecting asymptomatic residents of different geographical areas which correspond with the condition described as tropical enteropathy. Results suggest the importance of environmental factors. The parameters investigated may be relevant to the predisposition of the indigenous population and travellers to diarrhoeal illness and malnutrition. Intestinal function in patients from the tropics may be difficult to interpret, but should take into account the range of values found in the asymptomatic normal population. (+info)
Prevalence and social correlates of cardiovascular disease risk factors in Harlem.
OBJECTIVES: This study examined the prevalence, social correlates, and clustering of cardiovascular disease risk factors in a predominantly Black, poor, urban community. METHODS: Associations of risk factor prevalences with sociodemographic variables were examined in a population-based sample of 695 men and women aged 18 to 65 years living in Central Harlem. RESULTS: One third of the men and women were hypertensive, 48% of the men and 41% of the women were smokers, 25% of the men and 49% of the women were overweight, and 23% of the men and 35% of the women reported no leisure-time physical activity over the past month. More than 80% of the men and women had at least 1 of these risk factors, and 9% of the men and 19% of the women had 3 or more risk factors. Income and education were inversely related to hypertension, smoking, and physical inactivity. Having 3 or more risk factors was associated with low income and low education (extreme odds ratio [OR] = 10.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.0, 34.5 for education; OR = 3.7, CI = 1.6, 8.9 for income) and with a history of unstable work or of homelessness. CONCLUSIONS: Disadvantaged, urban communities are at high risk for cardiovascular disease. These results highlight the importance of socioenvironmental factors in shaping cardiovascular risk. (+info)
Efficacy of Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate vaccines and persistence of disease in disadvantaged populations. The Haemophilus Influenzae Study Group.
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) conjugate vaccines among children aged 2 to 18 months and to determine risk factors for invasive Hib disease during a period of declining incidence (1991-1994). METHODS: A prospective population-based case-control study was conducted in a multistate US population of 15.5 million. A laboratory-based active surveillance system was used for case detection. RESULTS: In a multivariate analysis, having a single-parent mother (odds ratio [OR] = 4.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2, 14.8) and household crowding (OR = 3.5, 95% CI = 1.03, 11.7) were risk factors for Hib disease independent of vaccination status. After adjustment for these risk factors, the protective efficacy of 2 or more Hib vaccine doses was 86% (95% CI = 16%, 98%). Among undervaccinated subjects, living with a smoker (P = .02) and several indicators of lower socioeconomic status were risk factors for Hib disease. CONCLUSIONS: Hib disease still occurs at low levels in the United States, predominantly in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. Low immunization coverage may facilitate continuing transmission of Hib. Special efforts to achieve complete and timely immunization in disadvantaged populations are needed. (+info)
Abbreviated measures of food sufficiency validly estimate the food security level of poor households: measuring household food security.
This study was designed to develop an abbreviated method that captures both the qualitative and quantitative dimensions of household food security (HFS). Women in poor and very poor households (n = 238) in a peri-urban barrio in Caracas, Venezuela, provided data on food availability and their perception of food resource constraints and hunger experiences within the home. Socioeconomic data and food-related behavior that may predict HFS levels were gathered. On average, the top 12 food contributors of energy provided 81% and predicted more than 90% of the variation in households' total energy availability using stepwise regression analysis. On the other hand, a 4-point 12-item scale was shown to have face, content and construct validity with reiterative testing, factor analysis and a Chronbach's alpha coefficient of 0.92. Assessing predictors of energy availability together with a self-perceived HFS scale may provide a valid and reliable method for identifying and monitoring food security levels among poor urban households. (+info)