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In Children, Food Insecurity Tied to Behavior, Cognition

Negative links between food insecurity, behavior issues largest in those with most behavior problems

MONDAY, July 2, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Food insecurity may be linked to behavioral problems and poorer cognitive performance in children, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Savannah Hobbs, M.Ed., from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, and Christian King, Ph.D., from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, conducted a secondary analysis of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study dataset in order to examine the associations of food insecurity with children’s cognitive and behavioral outcomes using quantile regression. The study included 2,046 children aged 5 years.

The researchers found that negative associations between food insecurity and child behavior problems (internalizing and externalizing) were largest for children with the most behavior problems. The negative association between food insecurity and Peabody Vocabulary scores was statistically significant only for children in the top half of the distribution (≥50th percentile). There was mixed evidence of an association between food insecurity and the Woodcock-Johnson letter-word identification test. These associations were similar for girls and boys.

“Because children’s cognitive skills and behavioral problems have long-lasting implications and effects later in life, reducing the risk of food insecurity might particularly benefit children with greater externalizing and internalizing behavior problems,” conclude the authors.

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