The Impact of Food Insecurity on the Home Emotional Environment Among Low-Income Mothers of Young Children
- 330 Downloads
Objectives Household stressors, such as food insecurity, contribute to the home emotional environment and negatively affect child development. Little research on this topic has been conducted among very young children. This study aimed to examine the relationship between food insecurity and the home emotional environment, as well the extent to which the relationship may be mediated by maternal symptoms of depression. Frequency of praise, affection, and discipline of young children by mothers were examined as markers of the home emotional environment. Methods Data were collected in a cross-sectional study of mothers of children under the age of five (N = 4231). Logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between level of food security and frequency of praise and discipline of children. Mediation analysis using the KHB method was conducted to test whether maternal mental health mediated the relationship between food insecurity and each outcome. Results Low and very low food security were significantly associated with higher odds of disciplining children with high frequency. Controlling for all covariates, frequency of praise was not significantly associated with level of household food insecurity. Differences in praise and discipline frequency were found by language of interview, maternal education, and employment. Conclusions for Practice Parent–child interactions, specifically related to discipline, are related to food insecurity. Further research should consider cultural patterns and mechanisms behind the relationship between food insecurity and the home environment. Household stressors begin affecting children at young ages, and early intervention is essential to prevent further negative sequelae as children grow older.
KeywordsFood insecurity Emotional environment Parenting Preschool-aged children
This study was funded by First 5 LA.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
- Bor, W., Najman, J. M., Andersen, M. J., O’callaghan, M., Williams, G. M., & Behrens, B. C. (1997). The relationship between low family income and psychological disturbance in young children: An Australian longitudinal study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 31(5), 664–675.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012). National Longitudinal Survey of Youth: Children and Young Adults. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from https://www.nlsinfo.org/content/cohorts/nlsy79-children.
- Coleman-Jensen, A., Rabbitt, M. P., Gregory, C., & Singh, A. (2015). Household food security in the United States in 2014. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, (ERR-194). Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2504067.
- Economic Research Service, USDA. (2012). U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module: Six-Item Short Form. Retrieved from http://www.ers.usda.gov/datafiles/Food_Security_in_the_United_States/Food_Security_Survey_Modules/short2012.pdf.
- Gundersen, C., Dewey, A., Crumbaugh, A. S., Kato, M., Engelhard, E., Odeen, B., … Ratulangi, P. (2015). Map the Meal Gap 2016: Highlights of findings for overall and child food insecurity. Chicago, IL: Feeding America.Google Scholar
- Laosa, L. M. (1980). Maternal teaching strategies in Chicano and Anglo-American families: The influence of culture and education on maternal behavior. ETS Research Report Series, 1980(1), i–i23.Google Scholar
- Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. (2005). The Los Angeles County Health Survey.Google Scholar
- Melchior, M., Caspi, A., Howard, L. M., Ambler, A. P., Bolton, H., Mountain, N., & Moffitt, T. E. (2009). Mental health context of food insecurity: A representative cohort of families with young children. Pediatrics, 124(4), e564–e572. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2009-0583.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Perez-Escamilla, R., & de Vianna, R. P. T (2012). Food insecurity and the behavioral and intellectual development of children: A review of the evidence. Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, 3(1), 1–16.Google Scholar
- Public Health Foundation Enterprises WIC Program. (2014). The Los Angeles County WIC Survey. Retrieved from http://www.lawicdata.org/survey.
- Slopen, N., Fitzmaurice, G., Williams, D. R., & Gilman, S. E. (2010). Poverty, food insecurity, and the behavior for childhood internalizing and externalizing disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(5), 444–452.Google Scholar
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). The HOME (Home Observation Measurement of the Environment). Retrieved January 8, 2018, from https://www.nlsinfo.org/content/cohorts/nlsy79-children/topical-guide/assessments/home-home-observation-measurement.