Project: Hunger: Its Risk and Impact in Poor Female-Headed Households with Children
Award Year: 1999
Amount of award, fiscal 1999: $250,000.00
Institution: University of Massachusetts Medical School
Principal Investigator: Linda Weinreb
Status: Completed
Detailed Objective: This work expands understanding of risk factors for household food insecurity/hunger and hunger's impact on children in low-income households headed by females. The work will use a comprehensive cross-sectional and longitudinal data set of poor female heads of household and their children that was collected in Worcester, Massachusetts from 1992 to 1997 by the Worcester Family Research Project. Mothers were assessed across economic, social, psychological, and health domains, using standardized instruments to measure a wide range of risk and protective factors. Their children were assessed for physical and emotional health and for academic achievement. The present work seeks to identify factors that predispose poor households to, or protect them from, food insecurity/hunger.

In conjunction with multivariate models, the data set's depth and breadth permit the most comprehensive assessment to date of the independent effect of food insecurity/hunger on critical child outcomes. Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of results will identify factors that make some children more vulnerable than others to food insecurity/hunger. The project will extend previous work by broadening the child outcomes considered, utilizing direct child assessment measures, controlling for a greater range of potential confounding variables, including maternal, community, and child factors, and examining changes in principal study outcomes over a two-year long follow-up period. In addition, the work will pay particular attention to the relationship between food assistance programs and food insecurity/hunger. In-depth analysis of the relationship between hunger (its presence, duration, and recurrence) and children's nutritional intake patterns, anthropometry, physical and emotional health, and learning, will be used to devise a screening measure for food insecurity/hunger that can identify high risk children and families for targeted interventions. A cooperative research agreement was awarded to the University of Massachusetts Medical School in fiscal 1999 at a cost of $250,000. The research is expected to be completed by September 2001.

Topic: Food Security, Poverty
Gundersen, C., L. Weinreb, C. Wehler, and D. Hosmer. "Homelessness and Food Insecurity," Journal of Housing Economics, Vol. 12, Issue 3, September 2003.
Rose, D., and J. Bordor. "Household Food Insecurity and Overweight Status in Young School Children: Results from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study," Pediatrics, Vol. 117, Issue 2, February 2006.
Wehler, C., L. Weinreb, N. Huntington, R. Scott, D. Hosmer, K. Fletcher, R. Goldberg, and C. Gundersen. "Risk and Protective Factors for Adult and Child Hunger Among Low-Income Housed and Homeless Female-Headed Families," American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 94, Issue 1, January 2004.
Weinreb, L., C. Wehler, J. Perloff, R. Scott, D. Hosmer, L. Sagor, and C. Gundersen. "Hunger: Its Impact on Children's Health and Mental Health," Pediatrics, Vol. 110, No. 4, October 2002.