Food insecurity has been associated with lower nutrient intake as well as lower intake of fruits and vegetables. However, little is known about the association of food insecurity and dietary behaviors, including food choices and preparation methods. This study examines the relationship between food insecurity and dietary behaviors of low-income adults (N = 1,874; 55% Hispanic) who completed the baseline telephone survey for a nutrition education study. From April 2003 to August 2004, data were collected on demographics and food-security status and validated dietary measures: fruit and vegetable screener and Food Habits Questionnaire were used to assess fat-related behaviors (food choices or preparation methods that lead to an increase or decrease in fat intake). χ² tests were conducted to compare each demographic variable by food-security status. Univariate linear regression models examined dietary variables by food-security status in univariate models initially, then in multivariable models adjusting for demographics. Half of participants reported food insecurity. Food Habits Questionnaire scores were significantly greater in the food-insecure group, reflecting a higher fat intake (P < 0.05). Fruit (with juice) intake was significantly greater in the food-insecure participants reflecting increased juice intake (P < 0.05). Food-insecure individuals reported a higher juice intake and a lower frequency of fat-lowering behaviors. Future interventions with food-insecure individuals should include nutrition education as well as efforts to increase access and availability to healthier foods. Further qualitative and quantitative research is needed on the relationship between diet and food insecurity.
Copyright © 2010 American Dietetic Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.