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Diet Quality is Low among Female Food Pantry Clients in Eastern Alabama

Duffy, Patricia, Zizza, Claire, Jacoby, Jocelynn, Tayie, Francis A.
Journal of nutrition education and behavior 2009 v.41 no.6 pp. 414-419
body mass index, mathematical models, malnutrition, eating habits, nutritional status, women, nutritional adequacy, smoking (habit), low income households, socioeconomic status, food security, obesity, educational status, multivariate analysis, lifestyle, Alabama
Objective: Examine diet quality, food security, and obesity among female food pantry clients. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: A food pantry in Lee County, Alabama. Participants: Fifty-five female food pantry clients between 19 and 50 years of age. Main Outcome Measure(s): Diet quality using United States (US) Department of Agriculture Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2005), adult obesity (Body Mass Index [BMI] >= 30 kg/m^2), household food security (US Department of Agriculture Module). Analysis: Analysis of variance and multivariate models. Results: Diet quality of the women was generally poor, with a mean HEI of a 43 on a 100 point scale. Having low education level (less than a high school degree) and being a smoker were related to lower overall diet quality. Sixty-seven percent of the clients were obese while 65% percent were food insecure. Conclusions and Implications: Food pantry clients are characterized by high levels of food insecurity, obesity and poor diet quality. Smoking was associated with food insecurity and low diet quality. Increased outreach efforts to improve nutrition education and to help food pantry clients stop smoking could be beneficial.