Adverse Childhood Experiences and Household Food Insecurity: Findings From the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health

Published:September 13, 2019DOI:


      Research has linked adverse childhood experiences to a host of negative health outcomes. The present study examines the link between individual and cumulative adverse childhood experience exposure and household food insecurity in a recent, nationally representative sample of children, and whether parent self-rated well-being attenuates these associations.


      Data from the 2016 National Survey of children's Health were analyzed in 2018 (n=50,212). Information concerning children's exposure to multiple forms of adversity, household availability of food, and parent self-rated well-being were available in the data. Multinomial logistic regression was performed to analyze the data.


      Findings suggest that the accumulation of adverse childhood experiences is associated with higher odds of food insecurity, with stronger associations between adverse childhood experience accumulation and moderate-to-severe food insecurity. Compared with no adverse childhood experience exposure, exposure to 3 or more adverse experiences corresponded to an 8.14-fold increase in the RR of moderate-to-severe food insecurity. Self-rated parent physical and mental well-being partially attenuated these associations.


      Policies aimed at minimizing adverse childhood experience exposure among children may have important collateral benefits in the form of reduced household hunger. Existing nutrition assistance programs may be enhanced by linking children and families to programs that bolster parent and child well-being; addressing community and family violence; and providing support for caregivers to prevent abuse, hardship, and exposure to the criminal justice system.
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