We used the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort 9- and 24-mo surveys (n = 8693) and Structural Equation Modeling to examine direct and indirect associations between food insecurity and toddlers' overweight (weight for length), physical health, and length for age. There were significant effects of food insecurity on parental depression and parental depression in turn influenced physical health. There were also significant effects of food insecurity on parenting practices, which in turn were significantly associated with infant feeding and subsequently toddlers' overweight. There were no significant direct or indirect associations between food insecurity and toddlers' length for age. Our results show that food insecurity influences parenting, including both depression and parenting practices. Findings suggest parental depression is a stressor on parenting behavior that social policy should address to alleviate problematic child health outcomes. Findings underscore the importance of continuing and strengthening policy initiatives to ensure that families with infants and toddlers have sufficient, predictable, and reliable food supply. (Author abstract)
Food insecurity works through depression, parenting, and infant feeding to influence overweight and health in toddlers
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