Variation in nutrient and food intake over pay cycles among low income households: A Pilot Study

by Emma Jayne Phillips

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: mothers; children; food insecurity; protective effect; pay cycle; food groups; low income
Record ID: 1307312
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5552


Background Economic factors are one of the greatest risks to household food insecurity. In New Zealand, the proportion of low income households is steadily increasing, contributing to the rising income inequality gap. Research among low income households in Canada has shown that food and nutrient intake declines over a pay cycle. Such studies have not been replicated in New Zealand. Many studies have demonstrated that mothers will sacrifice both their own intake quality and quantity, in order to protect their child’s diet. The main objective of this study was to answer whether nutrient and food intake declines over the pay cycle of a typical low income New Zealand households, and whether this differs between caregivers and children. Methods and procedures This was an observational pilot study based in Dunedin. Data were collected from 15 low income (<$45,000 per year) households with children (5-12years). The main food preparers from each household were interviewed. Information was collected on demographics, participant feedback, and household food insecurity status. The primary food preparer also completed two diet records. One was for them and the other was on behalf of one randomly selected child within the household. These took place at four time points during the household pay cycle, which was either weekly or fortnightly. T1 refers to the time point closest to receiving their main source of income, through to T4, which was allocated at the end of the cycle. In addition to this, food items were coded via their sources (e.g. supermarket, charitable aid and family or friend) and a record of all household food expenditure was collected. Both nutrient and food group intakes were determined using the dietary assessment software Kai-culator. The mean nutrient intakes between women and children were then compared and trends in food and nutrient intakes over the pay period were identified visually. Results All diet record days were completed and all questions were answered in the interviews. On collection of all data, food eaten outside the home was the only area which noted participant difficulty. A limitation of the current questionnaires was the observed discrepancies in the reported main source of income amount. Sixty percent of the households were categoried as moderately food insecure and twenty percent experienced low food security. Women reported various strategies and sacrifices made in response to declining resources. They also had a lower intake of energy in an overall comparison to children. Additionally, the children’s intake of fruit and dairy products was double that of their mothers. In women, a decline in fruit and calcium intake was observed across T1 to T4, however, this was not replicated in the children. Summary/conclusion Despite its small sample size, the results suggest that a decline in nutrient and food intake over the pay cycle was present in women. This trend was not found in children, thus suggesting differences between caregivers and children. A potential reason for this difference…