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

Public Health Nutr. 2004 Sep;7(6):791-4. doi: 10.1079/phn2004608.


Objectives: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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).

Conclusion: 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Malnutrition / ethnology
  • Malnutrition / etiology
  • Malnutrition / psychology*
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Public Assistance