To identify factors associated with food insecurity in California women.
The California Women's Health Survey is an ongoing annual telephone survey that collects data about health-related attitudes and behaviours from a randomly selected sample of women. Food insecurity of the women was measured by a 6-item subset of the Food Security Module. Statistical procedures included chi-square tests, t-tests, logistic regression analysis and analysis of covariance.
Four thousand and thirty-seven women (18 years or older).
Prevalence of food insecurity was 25.7%. After controlling for income, factors associated with greater food insecurity were Hispanic or Black race/ethnicity; less than a 12th grade education; being unmarried; less than 55 years old; being Spanish-speaking; having spent less than half of one's life in the USA; sadness/depression; feeling overwhelmed; poor physical/mental health interfering with activities; and fair to poor general health. Among Food Stamp Program (FSP) participants, 71% were food-insecure. Among FSP-eligible women who had not applied for the programme, the prevalence of food insecurity was lower among women responding that they did not need food stamps than in women giving other reasons for not applying (23.9% vs. 66.9%, P < 0.001). Factors associated with food insecurity in FSP recipients included being unable to make food stamps last for 30 days, feeling overwhelmed, and having a birthplace in Mexico or Central America.
Along with several socio-economic variables, poor physical and mental health is associated with food insecurity. Whether food insecurity is a cause or effect of poor health remains in question.
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