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Relationship between hunger and psychosocial functioning in low-income American children.

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  • 1Child Psychiatry Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02144, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Using large-scale surveys from nine states, the Community Childhood Hunger Identification Project (CCHIP) estimates that 8% of American children under the age of 12 years experience hunger each year. CCHIP operationalizes child hunger as multiple experiences of parent-reported food insufficiency due to constrained resources. The current study examined the relationship between food insufficiency and school-age, low-income children's psychosocial functioning. The study also assessed the interinformant (parent versus child) reliability and time-to-time reliability of the CCHIP measure.

METHOD:

Two hundred four school-age children and their parents from four inner-city public schools were interviewed using parent, teacher, and clinician report measures of psychosocial functioning. Ninety-six children and their parents were reinterviewed 4 months later.

RESULTS:

Hungry and at-risk for hunger children were twice as likely as not-hungry children to be classified as having impaired functioning by parent and child report. Teachers reported higher levels of hyperactivity, absenteeism, and tardiness among hungry/at-risk children than not-hungry children. Parent and child reports of hunger were significantly related to each other, and time-to-time reliability of the CCHIP measure was acceptable.

CONCLUSIONS:

Results of this study suggest that intermittent experiences of food insufficiency and hunger as measured by CCHIP are associated with poor behavioral and academic functioning in low-income children. The current study also supports the validity and reliability of the CCHIP measure for assessing hunger in children.

PMID:
9473912
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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