As part of a larger study on food insecurity and dietary adequacy of low-income lone mothers and their children in Atlantic Canada, we examined diet quality among household members.
Network sampling for 'difficult to sample' populations was used to identify mothers living below the poverty line and alone with at least two children under age 14. Trained dietitians administered 24-hour dietary recalls weekly for one month to mothers on the dietary intake of themselves and their children. We calculated Healthy Eating Index category scores for eligible mothers (129) and children (303) using Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating and the Nutrition Recommendations for Canadians.
Diet quality of low-income lone mothers was poor (35.5%) or in need of improvement (64.5%), with no mother having a good diet. The diet quality of children varied by age, with 22.7% of children aged one to three having a good diet or needing improvement (74.6%), 2.1% of children aged four to eight and no child aged nine to 14 having a good diet, while the diets of about 85% of older children in both age categories needed improvement.
Younger children seem to be protected from poor quality diets in households with limited resources to acquire food.