Food insecurity and malnutrition in Chinese elementary school students

Xiuhua Shen, Xiang Gao, Wenjing Tang, Xuanxia Mao, Jingyan Huang, Wei Cai

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12 Scopus citations


It has been shown that food insecurity is associated with poor diet quality and unfavourable health outcomes. However, little is known about the potential effects of food insecurity on the overall malnutrition status among children. In this study, we investigated the prevalence of food insecurity among 1583 elementary school students, aged 6-14 years, living in Chinese rural areas and examined its association with four malnutrition signs, including rickets sequelae, anaemia, stunting and wasting. Information on food security was collected via questionnaires. Rickets sequelae were assessed by an experienced paediatrician during the interview. Anaemia was determined by the WHO Hb thresholds adjusted by the local altitude. Weight and height were measured during the interview. Stunting and wasting were then evaluated according to WHO child growth standards (2007). We examined the association between food insecurity and the number of malnutrition signs (total number=4), and the likelihood of having severe malnutrition (presence of 3+ signs), after adjusting for potential confounders, such as age, social-economic status and dietary intakes. During the previous 12 months, the overall prevalence of food insecurity was 6·1 % in the entire studied population and 16·3 % in participants with severe malnutrition. Participants with food insecurity had a slightly higher number of malnutrition signs (1·14 v. 0·96; P=0·043) relative to those who were food secure, after adjusting for potential confounders. Food insecurity was also associated with increased likelihood of having severe malnutrition (adjusted OR 3·08; 95 % CI 1·47, 6·46; P=0·003). In conclusion, food insecurity is significantly associated with malnutrition among Chinese children in this community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)952-958
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 13 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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