Food insecurity of Portuguese families

Maria-Raquel G. Silva presented the work Household food insecurity in Portuguese young children after the financial crisis in the Virtual Congress on Clinical Nutrition & Metabolism (9-14 September).

The work, a collaborarion between various CIAS’ members including Vítor Rosado-Marques, Helena Nogueira, Daniela Rodrigues, Aristides Machado-Rodrigues, Augusta Gama, and Cristina Padez, aimed to to evaluate household food insecurity in Portuguese children after the global financial crisis, according to age, nutritional status and socio-economic status.

Methods: 4737 Portuguese children aged from 3 to 11 years (6.5±1.8 yrs) old from public and private kindergartens and primary schools in the districts of Porto, Coimbra and Lisboa (three of the largest districts in the north, center-north and center-south of Portugal, respectively) were evaluated between November 2016 and April 2017. The Food Insecurity Scale adapted and validated for the Portuguese population was applied to parents, among other instruments. Overweight and obesity were defined according to the WHO criteria when the BMI z-score was>1 and>2, respectively. The children’s socio-economic status was categorized into low (<9 years of education), middle (10-12 years) and high socio-economic status (university degree). Children were divided as preschool aged (n=2246, 3-6yrs.) and school-aged (n=2491, 7-11yrs.). The significance level was 5% (p<0.05).

Results: In general, household food insecurity was prevalent in 13.2% of the children with schoolers showing a slightly higher prevalence (14.2%) than preschoolers (12.0%). Significant differences were observed between age, nutritional status, socio-economic status and household food insecurity, since both groups of overweight preschool and school children were at risk of experiencing household food insecurity (p<0.05), as well as those with parents with low levels of education (p<0.01), with slightly higher prevalence in the youngest. Regardless of the children’s age, living in the center-north of Portugal was significantly associated with experiencing household food insecurity (p<0.05).

Conclusion: Increasing awareness of the risks of household food insecurity in children’s daily lives and their costs in short and long-term is important, as well as it is planning prevention strategies and adapt them specifically to the most vulnerable families and in the most affected geographical areas.

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Food insecurity of Portuguese families

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