Objective: To examine food insecurity and its relationship with children’s nutritional health.
Methods: Data for 390 children aged 7-12 years and their caregivers, recruited from eight schools in Trinidad and seven schools in St. Kitts in 2013-14 from a study dealing with food and nutrition security. Food insecurity, assessed using the USDA’s Household Food Security Survey Module, and 24-hour dietary recall of children were assessed in home interviews. Height and weight were measured and a capillary blood sample was collected at school.
Results: Overall, 41.5% of caregivers reported household food insecurity, with 15% of the children living in households with very low food security. Daily intakes of protein and zinc were higher among children from “food secure” vs. “food insecure” households (protein, 59.6 ± 31.5 g vs. 50.9 ± 24.4 g, p=0.003; zinc, 7.33 ± 5.02 mg vs. 6.20 ± 3.47 mg, p=0.004, respectively). There were no other differences in dietary intake. Children’s BMI z-score, weight status, and height-for-age z-score were not associated with food insecurity, and there was no evidence of stunting in either group. Anemia, however, was prevalent (30%) and higher among children from food insecure households (39% vs. 23%; p=0.002).
Conclusion: Household food insecurity was reflected in some lower intakes of some nutrients and anemia rates were higher among children living in food insecure households but food insecurity was not related to indicators of growth or weight status.
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