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The association between food insecurity and academic achievement in Canadian school-aged children

  • Erin L Faught (a1), Patty L Williams (a2), Noreen D Willows (a3), Mark Asbridge (a4) and Paul J Veugelers (a1)...
Abstract
Objective

Education is a crucial social determinant of health. Food insecurity can be detrimental to children’s academic achievement, potentially perpetuating a cycle of poverty and food insecurity. We aimed to assess the relationship between food insecurity and academic achievement in Canadian school-aged children.

Design

Cross-sectional study of children and parents. Parents completed the short-form Household Food Security Survey Module and questions about income and education level (socio-economic status). Children completed FFQ. Data were prospectively linked to children’s performance on standardized exams written one year later. Mixed-effect logistic regression was employed to assess the relationship between food insecurity and likelihood of meeting academic expectations adjusting for socio-economic status, diet quality and potential confounders.

Setting

Nova Scotia, Canada in 2011–2012.

Subjects

Students (n 4105) in grade 5 (10–11 years; 2167 girls) and their parents.

Results

Low food security was reported by 9·8 % of households; very low food security by 7·1 % of households. Students from low-income households and reporting poor diet quality were less likely to do well in school. Children who lived in households reporting very low food security had 0·65 times the odds (OR=0·65; 95 % CI 0·44, 0·96) of meeting expectations for reading and 0·62 times the odds (OR=0·62; 95 % CI 0·45, 0·86) of meeting expectations for mathematics.

Conclusions

Very low household insecurity is associated with poor academic achievement among children in Nova Scotia.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: Email paul.veugelers@ualberta.ca
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