Household Food Insufficiency and Children Witnessing Physical Violence in the Home: Do Family Mental Illness and Substance Misuse Moderate the Association?

  • Dylan B. JacksonEmail author
  • Kecia R. Johnson
  • Michael G. Vaughn


Objectives Research to date indicates that parents and children residing in food insufficient homes incur a host of negative health outcomes. Recently, studies have suggested that these homes are also at risk of violence between family members. Our objective is to examine the link between household food insufficiency and physical violence in the home using a recent, nationally representative sample, and to determine whether family mental illness and/or substance misuse inform this association. Methods A sample of nearly 50,000 children and families from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health were employed in the study. Information concerning household access to food, experiences of violence between parents/adults, and associated mental health and substance use risk factors were available in the data. Logistic regression, employed in a hierarchical fashion, was utilized to analyze the data. Results Household food insufficiency was associated with an increased risk of children witnessing physical violence in the home, and this was especially pronounced in the case of moderate-to-severe food insufficiency. Findings also indicated that family mental illness and substance misuse partly attenuated this association and that household food insufficiency was more strongly associated with violence in the home in the absence of mental health and substance use risk factors. Conclusions for Practice Polices aimed at diminishing food insufficiency may have important collateral benefits in the form of reductions in family violence, and these benefits appear to extend to families that are otherwise at low risk of family violence.


Food insufficiency Child health Domestic violence Mental health Substance use 



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  2. 2.Mississippi State UniversityStarkvilleUSA
  3. 3.Saint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  4. 4.Yonsei UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

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