Regional Variability in the Prevalence of Food Insecurity and Diet Quality among United States Children

Abstract

Understanding the association between food security status (FSS) and diet quality in children is crucial. This study investigated regional variability in FSS, participation in the federal nutrition assistance program (FNAP), and diet quality among US children. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2013 to 2016 were analyzed. The association between FSS, FNAP participation, and diet quality (Healthy Eating Index—HEI-2015) was assessed using multiple linear/logistic regression models. The sample included 6403 children (mean age: 7.5 years; 51% male; 33% Hispanic). Within the sample, 13% reported child food insecurity, and 30% reported household food insecurity. Additionally, 90% participated in the FNAP, and 88% were enrolled in school lunch programs. Children in urban areas were significantly more likely to report household food insecurity than those in rural areas (29.15% vs. 19.10%). The overall HEI-2015 score was 48.2. The associations between child/household FSS and FNAP participation as well as between child/household FSS and diet quality did not differ by urban/rural residence status, irrespective of the children’s age groups. There is a need for improvement in children’s diet quality, regardless of age or urban/rural residence. The findings suggest that improving children’s diets requires broader action as well as the prioritizing of children in urban areas experiencing food insecurity in future dietary interventions.

Description
Keywords
Citation
Nutrients 16 (2): 224 (2024)