In Canada, hunger is believed to be rare. This study examined the prevalence of hunger among Canadian children and the characteristics of, and coping strategies used by, families with children experiencing hunger.
The data originated from the first wave of data collection for the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, conducted in 1994, which included 13,439 randomly selected Canadian families with children aged 11 years or less. The respondents were asked about the child's experience of hunger and consequent use of coping strategies. Sociodemographic and other risk factors for families experiencing hunger, use of food assistance programs and other coping strategies were analyzed by means of multiple logistic regression analysis.
Hunger was experienced by 1.2% (206) of the families in the survey, representing 57,000 Canadian families. Single-parent families, families relying on social assistance and off-reserve Aboriginal families were overrepresented among those experiencing hunger. Hunger coexisted with the mother's poor health and activity limitation and poor child health. Parents offset the needs of their children by depriving themselves of food.
Physicians may wish to use these demographic characteristics to identify and assist families with children potentially at risk for hunger.
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