Graduate describes rates of child food insecurity in Mexican-origin families in Texas border colonias

March 25, 2013
Courtney Nalty, M.S.P.H.

Courtney Nalty, M.S.P.H.

Courtney Nalty, M.S.P.H., graduate of the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health epidemiology department and data coordinator for the Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, recently was the lead author on an article that described the rates of child food insecurity in Mexican-origin families in Texas border colonias.

“Children’s reporting of food insecurity in predominately food insecure households in Texas border colonias” was published in Vol. 12 of the Nutrition Journal. Researchers examined the reported rates of food insecurity among young children and adolescents compared to those of their mothers.

“Greater than one-quarter of all Hispanic households in the United States are food insecure,” Nalty said.

In 2010, researchers collected data from 50 Hispanic children ages 6-11 and their mothers who reside in Texas-Mexico border colonias. They found that despite there being high rates of food insecurity across the board, children reported lower rates than mothers.

“The discordance may be attributable to parental buffering, social desirability in responses and/or the age of children included in the sample,” Nalty said.

Nalty argues there are several factors that may contribute to this discrepancy, and further research is necessary to fully understanding how “food security is understood from the perspectives and experiences of children and adolescents.”

Co-authors on the article from the TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health include Joseph R. Sharkey, Ph.D., M.P.H., RD, and Wesley Dean, Ph.D. Research was supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Healthy Eating Research Program, National Institutes of Health/National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Prevention Research Centers Program through Core Research Project and Special Interest Project Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network, and by USDA RIDGE Program subaward through the Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell

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