Household Food Insecurity Predictive of Health Status in Early Adolescence? A Structural Analysis Using the 2002 NSAF Data Set
We used data from the 2002 National Survey of American Families to examine a structural model of the relations among food insecurity, poor nutritional status, parental mental health problems, quality of parenting, adolescents’ emotional distress, and poor health status for a national sample of 5366 12-to-14 year-olds. The results revealed that: first, food insecurity was associated with elevated levels of parental mental health problems, diminished quality of parenting, elevated levels of adolescents’ emotional problems, and higher incidence of poor nutritional and health statuses. Second, parental mental health problems were associated with diminished quality of parenting and higher incidence of poor health status; and quality of parenting had a negative effect on emotional distress, but not on health status. Finally, poor nutritional status was associated with elevated levels of emotional distress and higher incidence of poor health status; and emotional distress was predictive of poor health status. The findings of this study highlight the mediating role of nutritional status, parenting factors and adolescents’ emotional well-being in the link between food insecurity and health; and point to the complex interaction between food insecurity and health status.