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CHILD HUNGER: ITS PREVALENCE AND ASSOCIATION WITH BODY MASS INDEX AND DIETARY INTAKE AMONG SOMALI REFUGEE CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES

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Abstract

The primary objectives of the study were to estimate the prevalence of child hunger and its relationship to dietary intake and body mass index (BMI) among Somali refugee children. This article also examined the sociodemographic risk factors of child hunger in Somali households. Somali refugee mothers and children twelve years old or younger (n = 195) were recruited to participate in a cross-sectional survey. During the survey, children's height and weight were measured to calculate BMI while their mothers were interviewed to collect information on sociodemographics, food insecurity, and children's dietary habits. Results indicated that 23 percent of households experienced child hunger. Overall, underweight or BMI < 5th percentile was significantly higher in children who experienced hunger. In terms of dietary intake, compared to food secure or mild to moderate food insecure households, intake of green leafy vegetables was significantly lower (OR: .32; CI: .15–.68; p = .003) while intake of eggs was higher (OR: 23.65; CI: 9.57–58.45; p < .000) among children experiencing hunger. Logistic regression showed that acculturation indicators such as poor English proficiency (OR: 17.76; CI: 1.50–20.14; p = .022) and shorter length of stay in the United States (OR: 3.27; CI: 1.26–8.47; p = .015) increased the likelihood of child hunger.

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