Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Food Insecurity in U.S. Households That Include Children with Disabilities

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Food Insecurity in U.S. Households That Include Children with Disabilities

Article excerpt

As of 2010, nearly a fifth of the U.S. population (18.7%; 56.7 million people) had some level of disability, and 12.6% (38.3 million people) had a severe disability (Brault, 2012). Among children under 15 years old, 8.4% (5.2 million children) had a disability and 4.2% (2.6 million children) had a severe disability (Brault, 2012). For these figures, the U.S. Census Bureau defined disability as a functional limitation related to communication, mental health, or mobility; severe disabilities were complete restrictions in functioning (e.g., being deaf versus hard of hearing) or the presence of particular conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder or Alzheimer's disease (Brault, 2012).

Parents of children with disabilities face barriers to securing care for their children with disabilities due to the complexity of navigating medical systems, time constraints, and the financial burdens of out-of-pocket costs (Krauss, Wells, Gulley, & Anderson, 2001; Parish, Shattuck, & Rose, 2009; Parish, Thomas, Rose, Kilany, & Shattuck, 2012; Parish, Thomas, Williams, & Crossman, 2015; Warfield & Gulley, 2006). In particular, children with disabilities from low-income families are significantly more likely to experience barriers to health care access arising from poverty (DeVoe et al., 2007; Swanson, Wall, Kisker, & Peterson, 2011) as well as from difficulties obtaining medications and contacting physicians (Iezzoni, 2011). In light of these financial challenges, families with limited resources are forced to make constrained choices between food and medical care, particularly when a family member has disabilities or health conditions (Nielsen, Garasky, & Chatteijee, 2010). In this article, we further explore food insecurity in families that include children with disabilities.

Food Insecurity

Food insecurity refers to the lack of adequate, nutritious, and safe foods, typically due to financial resource constraints (Bickel, Nord, Price, Hamilton, & Cook, 2000). In the United States, food insecurity is usually measured through responses to the Household Food Security Survey Module, a tool developed by the U.S. Food Security Measurement Project to identify whether a household is food secure, has low food security, or has very low food security (Kirkendall, House, & Citro, 2013). In 2014, 14% of U.S. households had low or very low food security (Coleman-Jenson, Rabbit, Gregory, & Singh, 2015). Among households with children, the level was 19%. Although parents sometimes skipped meals in order to shield their children from hunger, the children in about half of these food-insecure homes directly experienced food insecurity themselves (Coleman-Jenson et al., 2015).

Cross-sectional and longitudinal investigations have revealed associations between child food insecurity and a host of poor health and developmental outcomes. These include psychosocial, behavioral, and emotional dysfunction (Alaimo, Olson, & Frongillo, 2001; Casey et al., 2005; Kleinman et al., 1998; Zaslow et al., 2009); reduced social skills (Jyoti, Frongillo, & Jones, 2005); a need for mental health counseling (Alaimo, Olson, & Frongillo, 2001; Kleinman et al., 1998); low academic performance and grade retention (Alaimo, Olson, & Frongillo, 2001; Jyoti et al., 2005; Kleinman et al., 1998; Winicki & Jemison, 2003); a need for special education services (Kleinman et al., 1998); diets with higher fat and sugar contents, reduced physical activity, and increased body mass index (Bronte-Tinkew, Zaslow, Capps, Horowitz, & McNamara, 2007; Fram, Ritchie, Rosen, & Frongillo, 2015; Jyoti et al., 2005); anemia with iron deficiency (Skalicky et al., 2006); more stomachaches, headaches, and colds (Alaimo, Olsen, Frongillo, & Breifel, 2001); and more hospitalizations, worse overall health status, and reduced physical functioning (Alaimo, Olsen, Frongillo, et al., 2001; Bronte-Tinkew et al. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.