Food poverty and health among schoolchildren: Findings from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study.
Nic Gabhainn, Saoirse
Kelleher, Cecily C.
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Molcho, M., Nic Gabhainn, S., Kelly, C., Friel, S. & Kelleher, C. (2007). Food poverty and health among schoolchildren: Findings from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study. Public Health Nutrition, 10(4), 364-370.
Objectives - To investigate the relationships between food poverty and food consumption, health and life satisfaction among schoolchildren. Design - Analysis of the 2002 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, a cross-sectional survey that employs a self-completion questionnaire in a nationally representative random sample of school classrooms in the Republic of Ireland. Subjects - A total of 8424 schoolchildren (aged 10¿17 years) from 176 schools, with an 83% response rate from children. Results - Food poverty was found to be similarly distributed among the three social classes (15.3% in the lower social classes, 15.9% in the middle social classes and 14.8% in the higher social classes). It was also found that schoolchildren reporting food poverty are less likely to eat fruits, vegetables and brown bread, odds ratio (OR) from 0.66 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.45¿0.87) to 0.81 (95% CI 0.63¿0.99); more likely to eat crisps, fried potatoes and hamburgers, OR from 1.20 (95% CI 1.00¿1.40) to 1.62 (95% CI 1.39¿1.85); and more likely to miss breakfast on weekdays, OR from 1.29 (95% CI 0.33¿1.59) to 1.72 (95% CI 1.50¿1.95). The risk of somatic and mental symptoms is also increased, OR from 1.48 (95% CI 1.18¿1.78) to 2.57 (95% CI 2.33¿2.81); as are negative health perceptions, OR from 0.63 (95% CI 0.43¿0.83) to 0.52 (95% CI 0.28¿0.76) and measures of life dissatisfaction, OR from 1.88 (95% CI 1.64¿2.12) to 2.25 (95% CI 2.05¿2.45). Similar results were found for life dissatisfaction in an international comparison of 32 countries. All analyses were adjusted for age and social class. Conclusions - Food poverty in schoolchildren is not restricted to those from lower social class families, is associated with a substantial risk to physical and mental health and well-being, and requires the increased attention of policy makers and practitioners.