To examine the prevalence of food insecurity in households with a child with insulin-requiring diabetes mellitus (DM), investigate whether food insecurity is associated with poorer DM control, and describe the household characteristics and coping strategies of food-insecure families with a child with DM.
Telephone interviews were conducted with consecutive consenting families over a 16-month period. Food insecurity was assessed through a validated questionnaire; additional questions elicited demographic information and DM management strategies. Charts were reviewed for hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). Univariate and logistic regression analyses were performed.
A total of 183 families were interviewed. Food insecurity was present in 21.9% (95% confidence interval, 15.87%-27.85%), significantly higher than the overall prevalences in Nova Scotia (14.6%) and Canada (9.2%). Food insecurity was associated with higher HbA1c level; however, in multivariate analysis, only child's age and parents' education were independent predictors of HbA1c. Children from food-insecure families had higher rates of hospitalization, for which food security status was the only independent predictor. Common characteristics and coping strategies of food-insecure families were identified.
Food insecurity was more common in families with a child with DM, and the presence of food insecurity was predictive of the child's hospitalization. Risk factors identified in this study should be used to screen for this problem in families with a child with DM.
Beverage consumption by poor, lone mother-led, "milk-friendly" families living in Atlantic Canada was characterized over a one-month income cycle.
Beverage intake and food security status were assessed weekly, using a 24-hour dietary recall and the Cornell-Radimer food insecurity questionnaire. Families were classified as "milk friendly" if total consumption of milk was 720 mL on a single day during the month. Beverage intake was assessed using t-tests, analysis of variance (ANOVA), repeated measures ANOVA with post hoc comparisons, and chi-square analysis.
Milk consumption by milk-friendly families (76; total sample, 129) was highest at the time of the month when they had the most money to spend. During all time intervals, mothers consumed the least amount of milk and children aged one to three years consumed the most. Mothers consumed carbonated beverages disproportionately, while children of all ages consumed more fruit juice/drink. Mothers' coffee consumption was profoundly increased when either they or their children were hungry.
The quality of beverage intake by members of low-income households fluctuates in accordance with financial resources available to purchase foods. Mothers' beverage intake is compromised by the degree of food insecurity the family experiences.
Canadian agricultural policy supports higher milk prices. Consequently, poor families lack sufficient funds to purchase adequate quantities of milk. Low-income lone mothers in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia suggested their preferred strategies for improved access to milk. We then built inter-sectoral support for a policy intervention to address their recommendations. Our research-to-action process led to a policy dialogue focusing on an electronic smart card that would permit the delivery of lower-priced milk to poor households. While all agreed that milk insecurity was an important issue, the project ultimately failed because of the entrenched positions of influential stakeholder groups.