Independent Validation of the Core Food Security Module with Asians and Pacific Islanders

Year: 1999

Research Center: Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Investigator: Derrickson, Joda, Jennifer Anderson, and Anne Fisher

Institution: Colorado State University

Project Contact:
Joda Derrickson, Ph.D., R.D., Jennifer Anderson,
Ph.D., R.D., Anne Fisher, Sc.D., OTR
Department of Food Science and Nutrition
Colorado State University


Derrickson et al. conducted an independent validation of the national household food security measure—the Core Food Security Module (CFSM) and its categorical algorithm—with Asians and Pacific Islanders in Hawaii. They conducted their research in three parts: a qualitative study (n=61), a pilot stability study (n=61), and a study replicating methods used to develop the CFSM (n= 1664). Caucasians, Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians, Filipinos, and Samoans residing in Hawaii comprised the ethnic groups of focus.

The authors confirmed the face validity of the CFSM with Asians and Pacific Islanders in Hawaii. Their findings indicate that the CFSM yields valid and reliable scale measures among Asians and Pacific Islanders in Hawaii, with the possible exception of American Samoans (n=23). However, they suggest weak credibility, validity, and stability of the CFSM categorical algorithm: 27 percent of 111 households identified as food secure with one or more affirmative replies responded affirmatively to “unable to eat balanced meals”; 50 percent of 64 households classified as experiencing moderate hunger responded affirmatively to “respondent hungry”; and only 62 percent were consistently classified in the same category over time.

Derrickson et al. developed and tested a “face valid” algorithm using three categories. They classified one affirmative response as “at risk of hunger.” Those who responded affirmatively to either the “respondent hungry” item or the “adults didn’t eat for a whole day” item were classified as “adult hungry,” and those who responded affirmatively to the “children hungry” item were classified as “child hungry.” Compared with the national algorithm, they found this algorithm resulted in a lower percentage classified as food secure (85 percent versus 78 percent), a greater percentage classified consistently as food insecure without hunger over time (57 percent versus 80 percent), and improved face and concurrent validity.

In general, the authors found that progressively deteriorating food security status, as experienced in Hawaii, resulted in decreased vegetable intake, increased reliance on Saimin (a popular dried noodle product), and increased use of alternative sources of food (food pantry use, eating with friends, fishing, etc.). Respondents most often perceived “balanced meals” as meals including “meat, starch, and a vegetable.” Derrickson et al. suggest caution when extending their results to ethnic groups not studied. In conclusion, they argue that their findings warrant further investigation of a shorter household food security measure and a reassessment of the CFSM categorical algorithm.