OBJECTIVE: The purpose is to describe the development and validation of a tool to measure the degree of past food insecurity in an immigrant US population.
DESIGN: Focus group discussions and a structured interview. As a first step, focus group discussions were conducted among immigrant Latino mothers. Based on these discussions, an 8-item tool was developed and pilot-tested in a convenience sample of mothers.
PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-two low-income Latino mothers with children, ages 4 to 5 years, in the focus groups and 85 low-income Latino and white mothers of young children in the structured interviews.
ANALYSES: Constant comparative analysis, Cronbach alpha, Spearman correlations, Chi-square, and Kruskal-Wallis test.
RESULTS: Internal consistency of the remaining 7 items was good (Cronbach alpha = 0.84). Evidence of convergent validity included significant correlations between past food insecurity and maternal education (r = -0.45, p < .0001), crowding in the mother's childhood household (r = +0.30, p < .006), and past food insufficiency (r = +0.74, p < .0001). Foreign-born Latino mothers reported significantly greater levels of past food insecurity than US-born mothers, demonstrating discriminant validity (p < .01).
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: This tool may be useful to determine how past deprivation influences current food choices and other nutrition-related behaviors in low-income Latino immigrants.
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