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Maternal resources and household food security: evidence from Nicaragua

  • Kammi K Schmeer (a1), Barbara A Piperata (a2), Andrés Herrera Rodríguez (a3), Virgilio Mariano Salazar Torres (a3) (a4) and Francisco José Centeno Cárdenas (a3)...

Women (especially mothers) are theorized as critical to reducing household food insecurity through their work and caregiver roles. The present study tests these assumptions, assessing how maternal economic and social resources are associated with food insecurity in households with young children.


Data from a population-based sample of households was collected in León, Nicaragua (n 443). Data include a newly validated measure of household food insecurity (ELCSA), maternal resource measures, and household economic status and demographics. Regression analysis tests the statistical associations (P<0·05) of maternal resources with household, adult-specific and child-specific food insecurity.


Municipality of León, Nicaragua.


Households with children aged 3–11 years in rural and urban León.


Only 25 % of households with young children were food secure, with 50 % mildly food insecure and 25 % moderately/severely food insecure. When mothers contributed substantially to household income, the odds of moderate/severe household food insecurity were 34 % lower than when their spouse/partner was the main provider. The odds of food insecurity were 60 % lower when mothers managed household money, 48 % lower when mothers had a secondary (v. primary) education, 65 % higher among single mothers and 16 % lower with each indicator of social support. Results were similar for adult- and child-specific food insecurity.


This research provides new evidence that maternal economic and social resources are important for reducing household food insecurity and adult- and child-specific food insecurity. Women’s social status, social support and access to economic resources need to be enhanced as a part of policies aimed to reduce food insecurity in high-poverty settings.

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Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
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