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Food insecurity among Mexican-origin and Hispanic households is a critical nutritional health issue of national importance. At the same time, nutrition-related health conditions, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, are increasing in Mexican-origin youth. Risk factors for obesity and type 2 diabetes are more common in Mexican-origin children and include increased intakes of energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods. This study assessed the relationship between children's experience of food insecurity and nutrient intake from food and beverages among Mexican-origin children (age 6-11 y) who resided in Texas border colonias.
Baseline data from 50 Mexican-origin children were collected in the home by trained promotora-researchers. All survey (demographics and nine-item child food security measure) and 24-hour dietary recall data were collected in Spanish. Dietary data were collected in person on three occasions using a multiple-pass approach; nutrient intakes were calculated with NDS-R software. Separate multiple regression models were individually fitted for total energy, protein, dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, sodium, Vitamin C, and percentage of calories from fat and added sugars.
Thirty-two children (64%) reported low or very low food security. Few children met the recommendations for calcium, dietary fiber, and sodium; and none for potassium or vitamin D. Weekend intake was lower than weekday for calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and vitamin C; and higher for percent of calories from fat. Three-day average dietary intakes of total calories, protein, and percent of calories from added sugars increased with declining food security status. Very low food security was associated with greater intakes of total energy, calcium, and percentage of calories from fat and added sugar.
This paper not only emphasizes the alarming rates of food insecurity for this Hispanic subgroup, but describes the associations for food insecurity and diet among this sample of Mexican-origin children. Child-reported food insecurity situations could serve as a screen for nutrition problems in children. Further, the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, which play a major beneficial role in children's weekday intakes, may not be enough to keep pace with the nutritional needs of low and very low food secure Mexican-origin children.