Increased rates and severity of child and adult food insecurity in households with adult smokers

Cynthia Cutler-Triggs, George E. Fryer, Thomas J. Miyoshi, Michael Weitzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate rates and severity of child and adult food insecurity (the inability to access enough food in a socially acceptable way for every day of the year) in households with and without smokers. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: Nationally representative sample of the US population from 1999 to 2002. Participants: Households with children through age 17 years (n = 8817) in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Main Exposure: Presence or absence of adult smokers in the household. Covariates included age, sex, and race/ethnicity of the child, and the poverty index ratio. Main Outcome Measure: Rates and severity of food insecurity were ascertained using the US Department of Agriculture Food Security Survey Module. Results: Food insecurity was more common and severe in children and adults in households with smokers. Of children in households with smokers, 17.0% were food insecure vs 8.7% in households without smokers (P < .001). Rates of severe child food insecurity were 3.2% vs 0.9% (P < .04), respectively. For adults, 25.7% in households with smokers and 11.6% in households without smokers were food insecure, and rates of severe food insecurity were 11.8% and 3.9%, respectively (P < .003 for each). Food insecurity was higher in low-income compared with higher income homes (P < .01). At multivariate analyses, smoking was independently associated with food insecurity and severe food insecurity in children (adjusted odds ratio, 2.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.5-2.7, and adjusted odds ratio, 3.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.4-6.9, respectively) and adults (adjusted odds ratio, 2.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.6-3.0, and adjusted odds ratio, 2.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.4-3.7, respectively). Conclusions: Living with adult smokers is an independent risk factor for adult and child food insecurity, associated with an approximate doubling of its rate and tripling of the rate of severe food insecurity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1056-1062
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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