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We investigated factors accounting for the consistently higher levels of household food insecurity reported by women in Canada.
Two cycles of the Canadian Community Health Survey for the years 2005/2006 and 2007/2008 were pooled to examine the association between household food insecurity, measured using the Household Food Security Survey Module and other metrics, and respondent sex. We stratified households as married/cohabiting (in which case, the household respondent was chosen randomly) or non-married (single/widowed/separated/divorced) and adjusted for differences in household characteristics, including the presence of children.
Analysis was restricted to households dependent on employment/self-employment and whose reported annual household income was below $CAN 100 000. Exclusions included respondents less than 18 years of age, any welfare receipt, and missing food insecurity, marital status, income source and amount, or household composition data.
For non-married households, increased food insecurity in female- v. male-led households was accounted for by significant differences in household socio-economic characteristics. In contrast, in married/cohabiting households with or without children, higher food insecurity rates were reported when the respondent was female and neither respondent characteristics nor socio-economic factors accounted for the differences.
Higher rates of food insecurity in non-married households in Canada are largely attributable to women's socio-economic disadvantage. In married households, women appear to report higher levels of food insecurity than men. These findings suggest a possible bias in the measurement of population-level household food insecurity in surveys that do not account for the sex of the respondent in married/cohabiting households.
Food insecurity, lack of access to food due to financial constraints, is highly associated with poor health outcomes. Households dependent on social assistance are at increased risk of experiencing food insecurity, but food insecurity has also been reported in households reporting their main source of income from employment/wages (working households). The objective of the present study was to examine the correlates of food insecurity among households reliant on employment income.
Working households reporting food insecurity were studied through analysis of the Canadian Community Health Survey, 2007–2008, employing descriptive statistics and logistic regression. Food insecurity was measured using the Household Food Security Survey Module; all provinces participated.
Canadian households where main income was derived through labour force participation. Social assistance recipients were excluded.
For the period 2007–2008, 4 % of working households reported food insecurity. Canadian households reliant on primary earners with less education and lower incomes were significantly more likely to experience food insecurity; these differences were accentuated across some industry sectors. Residence in Quebec was protective. Working households experiencing food insecurity were more likely to include earners reporting multiples jobs and higher job stress. Visible minority workers with comparable education levels experienced higher rates of food insecurity than European-origin workers.
Reliance on employment income does not eliminate food insecurity for a significant proportion of households, and disproportionately so for households with racialized minority workers. Increases in work stress may increase the susceptibility to poor health outcomes of workers residing in households reporting food insecurity.
Food is a basic human right. It is also a lens through which we can observe and measure progress in health as well as the protection of human dignity. In 2000, the United Nations (UN) agreed to eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The first goal (MDG 1) was the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. To achieve the food security dividend, as we have called it, we need to think about the world as it is in terms of hungry people and about what is most needed if global food security is to be achieved. This chapter examines the issue of food security and global health. The link between the two is obvious – if we achieved food security for all, we would advance the prospects of global health for all, arguably beyond any other single intervention.
What is food security?
It is helpful to begin with clarification of terms. The 1996 Rome Declaration on Food Security states, “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy and active life.” Food insecurity is a lack of food security. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) uses the words “hunger,” “undernourishment,” and “food insecurity” interchangeably (FAO, 2009a).
Food insecurity is a term that is applied at a range of levels from the individual through to global.
The magnitude and distribution of elastic strain for a nickel alloy 600 (A600) sample that had been subjected to uniaxial tensile stress were measured by micro Laue diffraction (MLD) and neutron diffraction techniques. For a sample that had been dimensionally strained by 1%, both MLD and neutron diffraction data indicated that the global residual elastic strain was on the order of 10−4, however the micro-diffraction data indicated considerable grain-to-grain variability amongst individual components of the residual strain tensor. A more precise comparison was done by finding those grains in the MLD map that had appropriate <hkl> oriented in the specific directions matching those used in the neutron measurements and the strains were found to agree within the uncertainty. Large variations in strain values across the grains were noted during the MLD measurements which are reflected in the uncertainties. This is a possible explanation for the large uncertainty in the average strains measured from multiple grains during neutron diffraction.
To determine the extent to which identified nutrient inadequacies in the dietary intakes of a sample of food-insecure women could be ameliorated by increasing their access to the ‘healthy’ foods they typically eat.
Merged datasets of 226 food-insecure women who provided at least three 24-hour dietary intake recalls over the course of a month. Dietary modelling, with energy adjustment for severe food insecurity, explored the effect of adding a serving of the woman's own, and the group's typically chosen, nutrient-rich foods on the estimated prevalence of nutrient inadequacy.
Setting and subjects
One study included participants residing in 22 diverse community clusters from the Atlantic Provinces of Canada, and the second study included food bank attendees in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Of the 226 participants, 78% lived alone with their children.
While nutritional vulnerability remained after modelling, adding a single serving of either typically chosen ‘healthy’ foods from women's own diets or healthy food choices normative to the population reduced the prevalence of inadequacy by at least half for most nutrients. Correction for energy deficits resulting from severe food insecurity contributed a mean additional 20% improvement in nutrient intakes.
Food-insecure women would sustain substantive nutritional gains if they had greater access to their personal healthy food preferences and if the dietary compromises associated with severe food insecurity were abated. Increased resources to access such choices should be a priority.
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