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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Food security and nutritional status among Vancouver preschool children Broughton, Margaret Anne


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to measure the prevalence of household food insecurity and to determine the association of household food insecurity with covariates related to the physical and social environments as well as the relationship of household food insecurity to preschool children's body mass index and nutritional status indicators. Study Design: Household food insecurity was measured using the USDA Core Food Security Module in a convenience sample of 142 households with children aged 2-5 years in Vancouver in March 2004. Univariate analyses utilized two-sample t-tests, Wilcoxon signed-rank test and Spearman rank correlation. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine associations among socio-demographic variables, physical and social environmental predictors, children's body mass index, children's serum ferritin, serum zinc and household food insecurity. Results: Half of households were categorized as food secure, 16.2% were categorized as food insecure with anxiety about their food supply, 21.0% as food insecure with few or no hunger indications, 11.9% as moderately food insecure with indications of adult hunger and 0.7% as severely food insecure with high risk of child hunger. After controlling for socio-demographic variables, parents with less access to food of reasonable quality, lower self-rated food preparation skills, fewer cooking appliances, and lower levels of social inclusion were more likely to experience household food insecurity. Children in food insecure households were over twice as likely to have a body mass index over the 85th percentile compared to those in food secure households OR 2.6 (95%CI: 1.02, 6.5). Spearman rank correlation showed a significant association between increasing household food insecurity and increasing body mass index z-score (rho = 0.18, p = 0.04). Median serum zinc levels were significantly lower among children from food insecure households. Study results did not show a correlation between household food insecurity and serum ferritin depletion. Conclusions and Implications: The prevalence of household food insecurity in the present study indicates a need for monitoring of food insecurity among households with children in Canada. The results suggest that the physical and social environments as well as personal/household attributes are associated with household food insecurity. The study provides evidence that food insecurity is associated with sub-optimal nutritional status in young children.

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