Objectives: We examined long-term patterns of household food insecurity in children from kindergarten through eighth grade and the association between those patterns and children's proxy-reported health status in eighth grade.
Methods: We obtained data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort, a study that followed a nationally representative sample of students from kindergarten entry in 1998-1999 through eighth grade. We classified food insecurity according to the number of years of reported household food insecurity over 4 observation years. We estimated logistic regression models to estimate the association between cumulative food insecurity exposure and health outcomes.
Results: Food insecurity was generally a transient rather than a persistent condition. Persistent food insecurity over the 9-year period was associated with lower health status in eighth grade, whereas more transient food insecurity was not significantly associated with health outcomes in most models.
Conclusions: Single-year estimates substantially underestimate the share of children whose households experienced food insecurity at some point during their childhood years. Persistent food insecurity is an important public health issue for children. Policy interventions to alleviate children's persistent food insecurity may promote child health.