Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Prevalence and predictors of food insecurity among low-income households in Los Angeles County

Bruce W Furnessa1a2 c1, Paul A Simona2, Cheryl M Wolda2 and Johanna Asarian-Andersona2

a1 Preventive Medicine Residency, DAPHT/EPO/CDC, 717 14th Street NW, Suite 950/Box 14, Washington, DC 20005, USA

a2 Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, USA


Objectives: To assess the prevalence and identify the predictors of food insecurity among households in Los Angeles County with incomes below 300% of the federal poverty level.

Methods: The Six-Item Short Form of the US Department of Agriculture's Household Food Security Scale was used as part of a 1999 county-wide, population-based, telephone survey.

Results: The prevalence of food insecurity was 24.4% and was inversely associated with household income. Other independent predictors of food insecurity included the presence of children in the household (odds ratio (OR) 1.7, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2–2.3) and a history of homelessness in the past five years (OR 5.6, 95% CI 3.4–9.4).

Conclusion: Food insecurity is a significant public health problem among low–income households in Los Angeles County. Food assistance programmes should focus efforts on households living in and near poverty, those with children, and those with a history of homelessness.

(Received July 03 2003)

(Accepted January 27 2004)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email