Objective: To describe the relationship of new measures of hunger and food insecurity to household food supplies and individual food and nutrient intake.
Design and setting: A questionnaire containing the Radimer/Cornell hunger and food insecurity items and questions on eating patterns and the frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption was administered to subjects during a personal interview in their homes. A 24-hour diet recall and a household food inventory were conducted at the initial interview and at a follow-up visit.
Subjects: Participants were 193 women drawn from a random sample of 308 women who had completed a previous health census in a rural New York State county. Subjects' ages ranged from 15 to 40 years. All had children living at home and less than 16 years of education.
Statistical analyses: Regression analysis was used to test for linear trends across food insecurity groups for the household food inventory scores and for the frequency of consumption of fruits and vegetables. t Tests were used to assess differences between the food secure and food insecure groups for nutrient and food group means. A chi 2 test for trend was used to examine differences in the distribution of nutrient and fruit and vegetable intake between the food secure and food insecure groups.
Results: A significant decrease in the frequency of consumption of fruits and vegetables and the amount of food in the household and a significant increase in scores indicative of disordered eating patterns were associated with a worsening of food insecurity status. Potassium and fiber intake and fruit consumption differed significantly between the food secure and food insecure groups. The percentage of respondents consuming less than the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin C and fewer than five fruits and vegetables per day was significantly greater among food insecure respondents than food secure respondents.
Applications/conclusions: The quantity of food available in households and consumption of fruits and vegetables decreased with increasingly severe problems with food insecurity and hunger. In this rural population, the Radimer/ Cornell measures were useful in identifying households experiencing food insecurity and providing information about the nature of the food supply and the dietary intake problems experienced by food insecure households and persons, suggesting that these measures may be useful on community surveys designed to examine food insecurity issues.