Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Who is food-insecure in California? Findings from the California Women's Health Survey, 2004

Lucia Kaisera1 c1, Nikki Baumrinda2 and Sheila Dumbaulda3

a1 Department of Nutrition, University of California – Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA

a2 California Center for Public Health Advocacy, PO Box 2309, Davis, CA 95617, USA

a3 Independent Research Consultant, 26611 Via Cuervo, Mission Viejo, CA 92691, USA


Objective To identify factors associated with food insecurity in California women.

Design The California Women's Health Survey is an ongoing annual telephone survey that collects data about health-related attitudes and behaviours from a randomly selected sample of women. Food insecurity of the women was measured by a 6-item subset of the Food Security Module. Statistical procedures included chi-square tests, t-tests, logistic regression analysis and analysis of covariance.

Setting California, USA.

Subjects Four thousand and thirty-seven women (18 years or older).

Results Prevalence of food insecurity was 25.7%. After controlling for income, factors associated with greater food insecurity were Hispanic or Black race/ethnicity; less than a 12th grade education; being unmarried; less than 55 years old; being Spanish-speaking; having spent less than half of one's life in the USA; sadness/depression; feeling overwhelmed; poor physical/mental health interfering with activities; and fair to poor general health. Among Food Stamp Program (FSP) participants, 71% were food-insecure. Among FSP-eligible women who had not applied for the programme, the prevalence of food insecurity was lower among women responding that they did not need food stamps than in women giving other reasons for not applying (23.9% vs. 66.9%, P < 0.001). Factors associated with food insecurity in FSP recipients included being unable to make food stamps last for 30 days, feeling overwhelmed, and having a birthplace in Mexico or Central America.

Conclusions Along with several socio-economic variables, poor physical and mental health is associated with food insecurity. Whether food insecurity is a cause or effect of poor health remains in question.

(Received February 28 2006)

(Accepted September 05 2006)

(Online publication March 05 2007)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email