Relationship Between Hunger and Psychosocial Functioning in Low-income American Children
Objective: Using large-scale surveys from nine states, the Community Childhood Hunger Identification Project (CCHIP) estimates that 8% of American children under the age of 12 years experience hunger each year. CCHIP operationalizes child hunger as multiple experiences of parent-reported food insufficiency due to constrained resources. The current study examined the relationship between food insufficiency and school-age, low-income children's psychosocial functioning. The study also assessed the interinformant (parent versus child) reliability and time-to-time reliability of the CCHIP measure.
Method: Two hundred four school-age children and their parents from four inner-city public schools were interviewed using parent, teacher, and clinician report measures of psychosocial functioning. Ninety-six children and their parents were reinterviewed 4 months later.
Result: Hungry and at-risk for hunger children were twice as likely as not-hungry children to be classified as having impaired functioning by parent and child report. Teachers reported higher levels of hyperactivity, absenteeism, and tardiness among hungry/at-risk children than not-hungry children. Parent and child reports of hunger were significantly related to each other, and time-to-time reliability of the CCHIP measure was acceptable.
Conclusion: Results of this study suggest that intermittent experiences of food insufficiency and hunger as measured by CCHIP are associated with poor behavioral and academic functioning in low-income children. The current study also supports the validity and reliability of the CCHIP measure for assessing hunger in children. (Authors)
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