SRPH researchers link very low food security with intake of more calories, total fat, added sugar in Mexican-origin children

June 6, 2012

(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — Food insecurity among Hispanic households is a critical nutritional health issue, especially among Mexican-origin children in Texas border colonias. A recently published article in BMC Pediatrics by Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health researchers emphasizes very low food security among Mexican-origin children (ages 6-11) was associated with greater dietary intakes in food and beverages that contributed more calories, total fat and added sugar.

Dr. Sharkey

“Sixty-four (64) percent of the children reported low or very low food security, which is considerably higher than previous studies of Mexican-American children,” said Joseph R. Sharkey, Ph.D., M.P.H., RD, professor at the TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health and director of the Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities.

“Few of the children met the national recommendations for calcium, fiber and sodium and none of the children for vitamin D or potassium. Further, children participated in school nutrition programs during the weekdays, when intake of calcium, vitamin D, potassium and vitamin C was higher than on weekends.”

Researchers concluded that child-reported food insecurity situations could serve as a screen for nutrition problems in children. However, the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, which play a major beneficial role in children’s weekday intakes, may not be enough to keep pace with the nutrition needs of low food secure Mexican-origin children.

Additional TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health researchers who worked on this research project include Courtney Nalty, M.S.P.H., and Wesley Dean, Ph.D., as well as Cassandra Johnson, M.S.P.H., who is now attending the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Read full Article

— Rae Lynn Mitchell