Food Insecurity Among Hispanic/Latino Youth: Who Is at Risk and What Are the Health Correlates?

J Adolesc Health. 2019 May;64(5):631-639. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.10.302. Epub 2019 Jan 30.


Purpose: We examined the correlates and health implications of household food insecurity among Hispanic/Latino youth (aged 8-16 years), a high food insecurity-risk population.

Methods: Using the Hispanic Community Children's Health/Study of Latino Youth (n = 1,362) and bivariate and multivariate analyses, we examined the correlates of household and child food insecurity and very low food security. We assessed the influence of four sets of risk/protective factors-child demographic, acculturation, socioeconomic, and family/social support. We then examined associations between food insecurity and four health indicators-body mass index, diet quality, depression, and anxiety-and used modification effects to assess whether these associations differed by sex, age, household income, parent nativity, and acculturative stress levels.

Results: We found high rates of food insecurity: 42% of Hispanic/Latino youth experienced household food insecurity and 33% child food insecurity. Moreover, 10% lived in a very low food secure household. Compared with their food secure peers, Hispanic/Latino youth in food insecure households experienced greater parent/child acculturative and economic stress and weakened family support systems. Associations of food insecurity with health outcomes varied by sex, age, household income, parent nativity, and child acculturative stress levels.

Conclusions: Food insecurity is highly prevalent among Hispanic/Latino youth and has detrimental health implications, especially for girls, older youth, and youth experiencing acculturative stress. Reducing food insecurity and improving health among Hispanic/Latino youth will likely require comprehensive policies that address their multiple migration, familial, and economic stressors.

Keywords: BMI; Depression/anxiety; Food insecurity; Health; Hispanic/Latino youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Depression / psychology
  • Diet*
  • Family Characteristics / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Surveys
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States