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Food Insecurity: Health Effects and Interventions

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2021) | Viewed by 34426

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Global Research on Well-being (GRoW), Blanquerna School of Health Sciences, Universitat Ramon Llull, Padilla, 326-332, 08025 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: social determinants of health; health inequalities; eating behavior; social capital and health promotion

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Assistant Guest Editor
Global Research on Well-being (GRoW), Blanquerna School of Health Sciences – Universitat Ramon Llull, Padilla, 326-332, 08025 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: food insecurity; elderly malnutrition; childhood malnutrition and obesity; food and health inequalities

E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Global Research on Well-being (GRoW), Blanquerna School of Health Sciences – Universitat Ramon Llull, Padilla, 326-332, 08025 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: health inequalities; lifestyles in adolescents; health promotion; research methods

E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Global Research on Well-being (GRoW), Blanquerna School of Health Sciences – Universitat Ramon Llull, Padilla, 326-332, 08025 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: health promotion; food security; eating behavior; food science
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The COVID-19 pandemic and the social measures taken as a result have been reported to exacerbate existing inequalities in the social determinants of health, particularly among the most vulnerable. One of the consequences of such a widening of inequalities has been the worrisome increase of food aid demand in both developed and developing countries, indicating a challenging situation for food insecurity. Given the prominent role of diet as a risk factor for NCDs and as overall determinant of health, research on the health effects of food insecurity and best practices on how to tackle it is timely.

This Special Issue focuses on research on the collateral effects of food insecurity on the health status and NCD control across the lifespan, as well as initiatives and interventions to manage and counteract food insecurity. Both quantitative and qualitative studies, as well as research on methods to evaluate food insecurity are welcome in this Special Issue.

Dr. Elena Carrillo-Alvarez
Dr. Raimon Milà Villarroel
Dr. Lluís Costa-Tutusaus
Dr. Blanca Salinas-Roca
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Food insecurity
  • Stunting
  • Health care systems
  • COVID-19
  • Low income
  • Health inequalities
  • Best practices
  • Measurement

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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14 pages, 744 KiB  
Article
The Nutritional Content of Rescued Food Conveyed by a Food Aid Organization
by Anne Nogueira, Fátima Alves and Paula Vaz-Fernandes
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 12212; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182212212 - 20 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2100
Abstract
Background: The number of food-insecure families in the European Union has increased, resulting in an increasing number of households depending on food assistance programs. The aim in this study was to evaluate the nutrient content of food rescued by a food aid organization [...] Read more.
Background: The number of food-insecure families in the European Union has increased, resulting in an increasing number of households depending on food assistance programs. The aim in this study was to evaluate the nutrient content of food rescued by a food aid organization that rescues and redistributes fresh or freshly cooked food to low-income households. Methods: To determine the nutritional content of food hampers provided by our case study organization, we weighed all items of food hampers in three weighing rounds over a period of four months. The Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) was applied to measure households’ food insecurity. Results: Our results show that, at our case study food aid organization, food donations substantially contribute to energy, macro, and micronutrient dietary recommendation intake (DRI). Conclusions: When evaluating how these nutrients contribute to alleviating food insecurity of the beneficiary households, we found that the perception of food insecurity is independent of the amount of nutrients served. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study measuring the nutritional content of fresh or freshly cooked rescued food conveyed by a food aid organization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Insecurity: Health Effects and Interventions)
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14 pages, 3413 KiB  
Article
The HOME Study: Understanding How College Students at a Hispanic Serving Institution Coped with Food Insecurity in a Pandemic
by Miriam Manboard, Cassandra M. Johnson, Hannah Thornton and Lesli Biediger-Friedman
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11087; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111087 - 21 Oct 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2898
Abstract
College students represent a unique population of adults, who may be more likely to experience food insecurity due to their transient circumstances, limited access to resources, and increased educational expenses. But little is known about how college students and their households mitigate food [...] Read more.
College students represent a unique population of adults, who may be more likely to experience food insecurity due to their transient circumstances, limited access to resources, and increased educational expenses. But little is known about how college students and their households mitigate food insecurity, particularly during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. The Household Observations of Meals and Environments (HOME) Study described how college students in the US utilized multilevel resources, including an on-campus food pantry, to maintain food security during the pandemic. A convenience sample of college students (n = 18) were recruited from an on-campus food pantry and provided quantitative and qualitative data through online surveys and in-depth Zoom interviews. Survey data were analyzed to describe sociodemographic characteristics. In-depth interviews were recorded, transcribed, coded, and analyzed thematically to identify emergent themes. Social support and the use of an on-campus food pantry were primary factors in maintaining a food security safety net. Students faced barriers when trying to access federal and state food assistance programs and identified multilevel resources, their food security, and the role of social support as facilitators in their perceptions of food insecurity status and experiences. Findings highlight practical implications for research related to on-campus food insecurity interventions and policies to support food security among college students. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Insecurity: Health Effects and Interventions)
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16 pages, 977 KiB  
Article
Nutrition Supports Deconstructed and Disrupted: An Evaluation of a Multilevel School-Based Intervention during the Time of COVID
by Rachael D. Dombrowski, Bree Bode, Kathryn A. G. Knoff, James Mallare, E. Whitney G. Moore and Noel Kulik
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11006; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111006 - 20 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2661
Abstract
The Best Food Forward (BFF) project aims to provide multiple nutrition supports and interventions to improve family food security (FS) and health outcomes associated with FS within two metropolitan school districts. A quasi-experimental time-series design guided a multilevel evaluation for BFF through surveys, [...] Read more.
The Best Food Forward (BFF) project aims to provide multiple nutrition supports and interventions to improve family food security (FS) and health outcomes associated with FS within two metropolitan school districts. A quasi-experimental time-series design guided a multilevel evaluation for BFF through surveys, biometric screenings, focus groups, and observations among a random sample of caregiver–child dyads. FS, utilization of school meal programs, and nutrition behaviors were observed and analyzed at three time points: preintervention, postintervention pre-COVID-19, and postintervention post-COVID-19. Participants included 122 parents and 162 youth. Families reported (1) an income less than $35,000 annually (48.8%) and (2) a COVID-19-related job loss (36.9%). Parents used Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs or Women, Infants, Children benefits prior to (51.1%) and following COVID-19 (50.0%). No significant differences in FS were found. RM-ANOVA indicated an increase in breakfast consumption at home and a decrease in use of the school breakfast program (F(1.78, 74) = 19.64, p < 0.001, partial η2 = 0.21) and school lunch program (F(1.51, 74) = 23.30, p < 0.001, partial η2 = 0.24). Rates of FS and eating behaviors did not change significantly over time. Correlations of program usage and eating behaviors demonstrate the importance of promoting participation in school meal programs. BFF may have prevented significant decreases in FS during COVID-19. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Insecurity: Health Effects and Interventions)
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Review

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57 pages, 998 KiB  
Review
The Measurement of Food Insecurity in High-Income Countries: A Scoping Review
by Elena Carrillo-Álvarez, Blanca Salinas-Roca, Lluís Costa-Tutusaus, Raimon Milà-Villarroel and Nithya Shankar Krishnan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9829; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189829 - 17 Sep 2021
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 5215
Abstract
The measurement of food insecurity is essential to monitor the prevalence, risk factors, consequences and effects of food insecurity and the interventions and policies implemented to tackle it. Yet, how best to apply it remains an unsettled issue due to the multifaceted and [...] Read more.
The measurement of food insecurity is essential to monitor the prevalence, risk factors, consequences and effects of food insecurity and the interventions and policies implemented to tackle it. Yet, how best to apply it remains an unsettled issue due to the multifaceted and context-dependent nature of food insecurity. We report a scoping review of measures of food insecurity at the individual and household level in high-income countries with the final purpose of facilitating a catalogue of instruments to be used by both researchers and practitioners. The scoping review was conducted following the methodological framework of Arksey and O’Malley and the Joanna Briggs Institute guidelines. We included all types of documents published between 2000–2020 using instruments that estimate food insecurity at both individual and household level in high-income countries, and with respondents including adolescents, adults, and elderly. We identified a total of 23 measurement strategies being used in 33 peer-reviewed publications and 114 documents from the grey literature. Our results show that most measures focus on the access dimension of food insecurity and that further research is required to develop measures that incorporate aspects of quality of dietary intake and relevant individual, household and social conditions related to food insecurity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Insecurity: Health Effects and Interventions)
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17 pages, 1020 KiB  
Review
Food Insecurity and Child Development: A State-of-the-Art Review
by Danielle Gallegos, Areana Eivers, Peter Sondergeld and Cassandra Pattinson
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 8990; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18178990 - 26 Aug 2021
Cited by 46 | Viewed by 11988
Abstract
Converging research indicates that household food insecurity impedes children from reaching their full physical, cognitive, and psychosocial potential. This state-of-the-art review examines the last decade of research to: (1) describe the impact of the severity and persistence of food insecurity on child development; [...] Read more.
Converging research indicates that household food insecurity impedes children from reaching their full physical, cognitive, and psychosocial potential. This state-of-the-art review examines the last decade of research to: (1) describe the impact of the severity and persistence of food insecurity on child development; (2) use a socio-ecological framework to examine significant proximal and distal factors which may interplay; and (3) outline directions for future research. We conducted a systematic review of six databases of published papers from 2011 to June 2021. The search was limited to high-income countries and children aged from birth to 12 years. From 17,457 papers, 17 studies were included in the final review. Transitioning between food security and food insecurity had a significant and lasting effect on academic/cognitive function and behavior (i.e., externalizing), however less clear relationships were seen for psychosocial outcomes and other behaviors examined (i.e., internalizing). There was significant variation in the measurement and thresholds used to define both food insecurity and child development outcomes. Subsequently, comparisons across studies are difficult. Several future recommendations, including incorporation of socio-ecological factors, is provided. In conclusion, this review supports the link between food insecurity and sub-optimal child development; however, there is an imperative to improve and extend current understanding to ameliorate the causes of food insecurity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Insecurity: Health Effects and Interventions)
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15 pages, 595 KiB  
Review
Interventions on Food Security and Water Uses for Improving Nutritional Status of Pregnant Women and Children Younger Than Five Years in Low-Middle Income Countries: A Systematic Review
by Cristina Urgell-Lahuerta, Elena Carrillo-Álvarez and Blanca Salinas-Roca
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4799; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18094799 - 02 May 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3400
Abstract
Malnutrition is a global health issue concerning children and pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The aim of this review was to assess the health-impact outcomes of interventions addressing food security, water quality and hygiene in order to address the improvement [...] Read more.
Malnutrition is a global health issue concerning children and pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The aim of this review was to assess the health-impact outcomes of interventions addressing food security, water quality and hygiene in order to address the improvement of the nutritional status in children below five years and pregnant women in LMICs. Using PRISMA procedures, a systematic review was conducted by searching in biomedical databases clinical trials and interventions for children and pregnant women. Full articles were screened (nf = 252) and critically appraised. The review included 27 randomized and non-randomized trials and interventions. Based on the analysis, three agents concerning nutritional status were identified. First, exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding were fundamental elements in preventing malnutrition. Second, provision of sanitation facilities and the promotion of hygienic practices were also essential to prevent infections spread and the consequent deterioration of nutritional status. Finally, seasonality was also seen to be a relevant factor to consider while planning and implementing interventions in the populations under study. In spite of the efforts conducted over last decades, the improvement in food insecurity rates has remained insufficient. Therefore, the development of global health programs is fundamental to guide future actions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Insecurity: Health Effects and Interventions)
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Other

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11 pages, 336 KiB  
Protocol
Eating Behavior during First-Year College Students, including Eating Disorders—RUVIC-RUNEAT-TCA Project. Protocol of an Observational Multicentric Study
by Anna Vila-Martí, Iñaki Elío and Sandra Sumalla-Cano
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9457; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189457 - 08 Sep 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4448
Abstract
(1) Introduction: Changes in eating behavior and eating disorders are especially common in young people, especially teenage and college women. The first year of college is a critical period, as students acquire freedoms that can lead to poor eating habits. During this first [...] Read more.
(1) Introduction: Changes in eating behavior and eating disorders are especially common in young people, especially teenage and college women. The first year of college is a critical period, as students acquire freedoms that can lead to poor eating habits. During this first year, students usually gain weight. The aims of this project are to analyze the risk of developing eating disorders, the composition and dietary intake and the changes in the body composition of two groups of college students (independent from the family nucleus or still living within the family) in the first year of college. (2) Material and Methods: Multicentric prospective observational study protocol in which first-year students at the Universidad Europea del Atlántico and Universitat de Vic-Universitat Central de Catalunya voluntarily took part in the study. The students will be divided into two groups, independent and those residing in the family home, and the evolution of both groups will be compared at the beginning and at the end of the school year by performing anthropometric measurements, tests on lifestyle and eating habits (Test of Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet, MEDAS-14; Emotional Eater Questionnaire, EEQ), validated questionnaires on eating disorders (Eating Attitude Test, EAT26; Teen Figure Drawing Scales; SCOFF, Eating Behavior Test; Bulimia Investigatory Test Edinburgh, BITE) and their intake will be evaluated through 72 h dietary records. (3) Discussion: Determining the risk of suffering eating disorders of alimentary behavior, knowing eating consumption, perception of the corporal image and body composition through the first year of college will be decisive in establishing alimentary education strategies to prevent possible eating disorders in young students. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Insecurity: Health Effects and Interventions)
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