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Journal of Nutrition








Children in food-insecure households are more likely to experience poorer health function and worse academic achievement. To investigate the relation between economic environmental factors and food insecurity among children, we examined the relation between general and specific food prices (fast food, fruits and vegetables, beverages) and risk of low (LFS) and very low food security (VLFS) status among low-income American households with children. Using information for 27,900 child-year observations from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class of 1998 1999 linked with food prices obtained from the Cost of Living Data of the Council for Community and Economic Research, formerly known as the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers' Association, fixed effects models were estimated within stratified income groups. Higher overall food prices were associated with increased risk of LFS and VLFS (coefficient = 0.617; P < 0.05). Higher fast food and fruit and vegetable prices also contributed to higher risk of food insecurity (coefficient = 0.632, P < 0.01 for fast food; coefficient = 0.879, P < 0.01 for fruits and vegetables). However, increasing beverage prices, including the prices of soft drinks, orange juice, and coffee, had a protective effect on food security status, even when controlling for general food prices. Thus, although food price changes were strongly related to food security status among low-income American households with children, the effects were not uniform across types of food. These relations should be accounted for when implementing policies that change specific food prices.


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Original Publication Citation

Zhang, Q., Jones, S., Ruhm, C. J., & Andrews, M. (2013). Higher food prices may threaten food security status among American low-income households with children. Journal of Nutrition, 143(10), 1659-1665. doi:10.3945/jn.112.170506