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Household food insecurity, nutritional status and morbidity in Brazilian children

  • Muriel Bauermann Gubert (a1) (a2), Ana Maria Spaniol (a3), Gisele Ane Bortolini (a3) and Rafael Pérez-Escamilla (a2)

To identify the association of household food insecurity (HFI) with anthropometric status, the risk of vitamin A deficiency and anaemia, morbidities such as cough and fever, and hospitalizations for diarrhoea and pneumonia in children under 5 years old.


Cross-sectional study using data from the 2006 Brazilian Demographic and Health Survey. HFI was measured with the Brazilian Food Insecurity Measurement Scale (EBIA). Vitamin A deficiency and anaemia were assessed in blood samples. Child morbidities were reported by the child’s mother and included cough, fever, and hospitalizations for diarrhoea and pneumonia. Regression results were expressed as unadjusted and adjusted OR and corresponding 95 % CI for severe food insecurity, with statistical significance set at P<0·05.


Nationally representative survey.


Children (n 4064) under 5 years old.


There was no association between HFI and vitamin A deficiency, pneumonia, wasting or overweight. The prevalence of cough, fever, hospitalization for diarrhoea and stunting were associated with degree of HFI severity. There was a significant association of morbidities and stunting with severe food insecurity (v. food secure). After controlling for confounders, the association between severe food insecurity (v. food secure/rest of food insecurity categories) and the prevalence of common morbidities remained strong, showing that severely food-insecure children had a greater likelihood of experiencing cough (adjusted OR=1·79) and of being hospitalized for diarrhoea (adjusted OR=2·55).


Severe HFI was associated with cough and severe diarrhoea among Brazilian children.

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