The relationship between food insecurity and weight status, eating behaviors, the home food environment, meal planning and preparation, and perceived stress in parents living in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area

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Objectives Through a cross-sectional observational study, this thesis evaluates the relationship between food insecurity and weight status, eating behaviors, the home food environment, meal planning and preparation, and perceived stress

Objectives Through a cross-sectional observational study, this thesis evaluates the relationship between food insecurity and weight status, eating behaviors, the home food environment, meal planning and preparation, and perceived stress as it relates to predominantly Hispanic/Latino parents in Phoenix, Arizona. The purpose of this study was to address gaps in the literature by examining differences in "healthy" and "unhealthy" eating behaviors, foods available in the home, how time and low energy impact meal preparation, and the level of stress between food security groups. Methods Parents, 18 years or older, were recruited during two pre-scheduled health fairs, from English as a second language classes, or from the Women, Infants, and Children's clinic at a local community center, Golden Gate Community Center, in Phoenix, Arizona. An interview, electronic, or paper survey were offered in either Spanish or English to collect data on the variables described above. In addition to the survey, height and weight were collected for all participants to determine BMI and weight status. One hundred and sixty participants were recruited. Multivariate linear and logistic regression models, adjusting for weight status, education, race/ethnicity, income level, and years residing in the U.S., were used to assess the relationship between food security status and weight status, eating behaviors, the home food environment, meal planning and preparation, and perceived stress. Results Results concluded that food insecurity was more prevalent among parents reporting lower income levels compared to higher income levels (p=0.017). In adjusted models, higher perceived cost of fruits (p=0.004) and higher perceived level of stress (p=0.001) were associated with food insecurity. Given that the sample population was predominately women, a post-hoc analysis was completed on women only. In addition to the two significant results noted in the adjusted analyses, the women-only analysis revealed that food insecure mothers reported lower amounts of vegetables served with meals (p=0.019) and higher use of fast-food when tired or running late (p=0.043), compared to food secure mothers. Conclusion Additional studies are needed to further assess differences in stress levels between food insecure parents and food insecure parents, with special consideration for directionality and its relationship to weight status.