Bidirectional Relationship Between Food Insecurity and Housing Instability

Publication Year


Journal Article

Due to the commonality of material hardship, food insecurity and housing instability are highly correlated. There is a need to assess the bidirectional relationship between food insecurity and housing instability over time.

To examine the potential bidirectional associations between food insecurity and housing instability over a 2-year period.

Two time points from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study were used to conduct an analysis on 2368 families.

At baseline (1998-2000), researchers recruited primarily unmarried mothers after giving birth from 75 hospitals in 20 cities across the United States. Participants were followed up when the child was 3 years old (2001-2003) and 5 years old (2003-2005).

Main outcomes measured
Food insecurity was assessed using the 18-item US Department of Agriculture’s Food Security Survey. Housing instability was assessed using 6 items that describe housing related hardship.

Statistical analyses performed
Cross-lagged path analyses using structural equation modeling were conducted to test bidirectional relationship of food insecurity and housing instability over time, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics.

Families who experienced food insecurity at time 1 were 62% higher odds of experiencing housing instability at time 2 (odds ratio: 1.624, B = 0.485, 95% confidence interval: 0.199, 0.778), controlling for time 1 housing instability, concurrent food insecurity, and covariates. Families who experienced housing instability at time 1 were 40% increased odds of experiencing food insecurity at time 2 (odds ratio: 1.404, B = 0.339, 95% confidence interval: 0.071, 0.619), controlling for food insecurity at time 1, concurrent housing instability, and covariates.

The relationships between food insecurity and housing instability were highly correlated over time, controlling for covariates that are associated with socioeconomic status. Currently, programs designed to reduce food insecurity and housing instability function in isolation. Consolidating antipoverty programs or increasing referrals to various programs may help to reduce these 2 types of economic hardships.

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics