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Prevalence and predictors of food insecurity among low-income households in Los Angeles County

  • Bruce W Furness (a1) (a2), Paul A Simon (a2), Cheryl M Wold (a2) and Johanna Asarian-Anderson (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2007

To assess the prevalence and identify the predictors of food insecurity among households in Los Angeles County with incomes below 300% of the federal poverty level.


The Six-Item Short Form of the US Department of Agriculture's Household Food Security Scale was used as part of a 1999 county-wide, population-based, telephone survey.


The prevalence of food insecurity was 24.4% and was inversely associated with household income. Other independent predictors of food insecurity included the presence of children in the household (odds ratio (OR) 1.7, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2–2.3) and a history of homelessness in the past five years (OR 5.6, 95% CI 3.4–9.4).


Food insecurity is a significant public health problem among low–income households in Los Angeles County. Food assistance programmes should focus efforts on households living in and near poverty, those with children, and those with a history of homelessness.

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1V Tarasuk . A critical examination of community-based responses to household food insecurity in Canada. Health Education & Behavior 2001; 28: 487–99.

8SJ Blumberg , K Bialostosky , WL Hamilton , RR Briefel . The effectiveness of a Short Form of the Household Food Security Scale. American Journal of Public Health 1999; 89: 1231–4.

9PA Simon , CM Wold , MR Cousineau , JE Fielding . Meeting the data needs of a local health department: the Los Angeles County Health Survey. American Journal of Public Health 2001; 91: 1950–2.

11K Nelson , ME Brown , N Lurie . Hunger in an adult patient population. Journal of the American Medical Association 1998; 279: 1211–4.

12C Gundersen , V Oliveira . The food stamp program and food insufficiency. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 2001; 83: 875–87.

13C Gundersen , L Weinreb , C Wehler , D Hosmer . Homelessness and food insecurity. Journal of Housing Economics 2003; 12: 250–72.

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Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
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