Examination co-parenting support and parenting stress as mediators of the food insecurity-maternal depression/anxiety relationship

Publication Year


Journal Article


Identifying family environment factors related to food insecurity and maternal mental health could inform additional support for mothers who experience food insecurity. This study seeks to examine the mechanistic roles of co-parenting support and parenting stress on the food insecurity-maternal mental health relationship.


Data from the Future of Families and Child Well-being Study, which recruited mothers post-delivery from 75 urban hospitals, was utilized. Analysis includes 1808 mothers followed for 15 years. Food insecurity was assessed at year 5, co-parenting support and parenting stress at year 9, and maternal depression and anxiety at year 15. Structural equation models evaluated the role of food insecurity on maternal depression (model 1) and anxiety (model 2) through co-parenting support and parenting stress simultaneously, adjusting for socio-demographics.


Co-parenting support did not mediate the relationships of food insecurity and maternal depression and anxiety, controlling for parenting stress. Controlling for co-parenting support, parenting stress did not mediate the food insecurity-maternal depression relationship, but partially mediated the food insecurity-maternal anxiety relationship (specific indirect: B = 0.026, CI:0.01, 0.05; specific direct: B = 0.131, CI:-0.04, 0.32).


There was a significant period of time (10 years) between assessment of food insecurity and assessment of maternal mental health. Self-reported data on sensitive topics may be susceptible to bias. With observational research, it is possible that unobserved confounding variables impact the findings.


Cumulative support in the form of - parenting, economic (e.g., utilities), and food - may help reduce parenting stress and anxiety among mothers who experience food insecurity.

Journal of Affective Disorders