Food insufficiency and physical and mental health in a longitudinal survey of welfare recipients

Kristine Siefert, Colleen M. Heflin, Mary E. Corcoran, David R. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


Food insufficiency is a significant problem in the United States, and poor African American women with children are at especially high risk. An inadequate household food supply can potentially affect the well-being of household members, but it is difficult to distinguish the effects of food insufficiency from risk factors for poor health that are also common among the food insufficient, such as poverty. We examined food insufficiency and physical and mental health among African American and white women (n = 676) who were welfare recipients in 1997. Controlling for common risk factors, women who reported food insufficiency in both 1997 and 1998 were more likely to report fair or poor health at the later date. Food insufficiency in 1998 was significantly associated with meeting the diagnostic screening criteria for recent major depression. Food insufficiency at both times and in 1998 only was related to women's sense of mastery. These findings add to growing evidence that household food insufficiency is associated with poor physical and mental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-186
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of health and social behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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