Background: The most recent statistics indicate that the prevalence of food insecurity in the United States is double that in Canada, but the extent to which the nutrition implications of this problem differ between the countries is not known.
Objective: This study was undertaken to compare adequacy of nutrient intakes in relation to household food insecurity among youth and adults in Canada and the United States.
Methods: Data from comparable nationally representative surveys, the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey and the 2003-2006 NHANES, were used to estimate prevalences of inadequate intakes of vitamins A and C, folate, calcium, magnesium, and zinc among youth and adults in food-secure and food-insecure households. Potential differences in the composition of the populations between the 2 countries were addressed by using standardization, and analyses also accounted for participation in food and nutrition assistance programs in the United States.
Results: Larger gaps in the prevalences of inadequate intakes between those in food-secure and food-insecure households were observed in Canada than in the United States for calcium and magnesium. For calcium, the prevalences of inadequate intakes among those in food-secure and food-insecure households in Canada were 50% and 66%, respectively, compared with 50% and 51%, respectively, in the United States. For magnesium, the prevalences of inadequate intakes in Canada were 39% and 60% among those in food-secure and food-insecure households, respectively, compared with 60% and 61%, respectively, in the United States. These findings were largely unchanged after we accounted for participation in food and nutrition assistance programs in the United States.
Conclusions: This study suggests that household food insecurity is a stronger marker of nutritional vulnerability in Canada than in the United States. The results highlight the need for research to elucidate the effects of domestic policies affecting factors such as food prices and fortification on the nutritional manifestations of food insecurity.
Keywords: 24-hour recalls; Canadian Community Health Survey; Dietary Reference Intakes; Estimated Average Requirement; National Cancer Institute method; National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; between-country comparison; household food insecurity; nutrient inadequacies; usual dietary intake.
© 2015 American Society for Nutrition.