Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition, Aging and Chronic Disease, Obesity
Objectives : Insufficient and/or poor child sleep has long-term health impacts across the life span. Food insecurity is prevalent among low-income populations and it is associated with adverse mental health and sleep outcomes in adults. Little is known about its influence on sleep in young children.
We examined the association between food insecurity and sleep outcomes, and investigated whether parent psychosocial factors mediated such associations in a sample of preschool-aged children from low-income families.
Methods : Eligible children enrolled in Head Start were included in the analytic sample (n=362). Usual wake and bedtime, bedtime routine and sleep quality were reported by parents using the adapted Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire. Food insecurity was assessed using the 18-item USDA Household Food Security Module. Parent psychosocial factors, including perceived stress, parenting self-efficacy and depressive symptomology, were assessed using validated scales. Multivariable logistic regression models were performed to determine the association between food insecurity and sleep outcomes controlling for potential confounders. Mediation analyses and Sobel test were applied to test the mediating effect of individual parent psychosocial factors.
Prevalence of household, adult, and child food insecurity was 37.3%, 31.8% and 17.7%, respectively. Food security status at any level was not associated with child sleep duration or bedtime routine frequency. Child food insecurity, but not household or adult food insecurity, was associated with 2.25 times increased odds (95%CI: 1.11, 4.55) of poor child sleep quality in the adjusted model. Perceived stress, self-efficacy, and depressive symptomology mediated less than 2% of the observed effect (all Sobel test p-values > 0.6).
Conclusions : Food insecurity, particularly at the child level, is a potential modifiable risk factor for reducing sleep-related health disparities in early childhood. Future studies are needed to explore the plausible mechanisms underlying the associations between food insecurity and adverse sleep outcomes in children.
Funding Sources : None.