Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Health Promotion

First Committee Member

Dr. Marcus Waldman, MS-EdD

Second Committee Member

Dr. Aaron Yoder, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Dr. Chad Abresch, PhD

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Amy L. Yaroch, PhD


Food insecurity is a well-known risk factor for delayed child development. Still, the contribution of other factors, such as income, home learning environment (HLE), and family socio-demographic factors, remains to be determined. Therefore, the study aimed to determine the association between food insecurity and child development and assess the role of income, HLE, and family socio-demographic factors in that association. We used secondary data from the Nebraska Early Childhood Study, a cross-sectional study of caregivers of children under five years old in Omaha and Lincoln. Child development, food insecurity, and HLE were measured using a caregiver report of child development. We used multiple regression to analyze the data.

The results showed that food insecurity was negatively related to developmental outcomes (Est = -0.217, SE = 0.091, ES = -0.109, p =.018) even after adjusting for Income (Est = -0.222, SE = 0.092, ES =-0.112, p =.048). HLE was positively associated with children’s developmental outcomes after controlling for income, child’s age, sex, race, and ethnicity (Est = 0.376, SE = 0.092, ES = 0.198, p < .001). HLE did not moderate the association between food insecurity and children’s developmental outcomes (Est = -0.287, SE = 0.185, ES = -0.095, p = .121). These results indicate that even if a child has access to a stimulating HLE, they may still experience developmental setbacks if they do not have enough nutritious food.

Overall, the study found that addressing food insecurity and promoting a stimulating HLE is essential in improving child developmental outcomes, especially in high-risk populations. Further research is needed to fully understand the complex factors influencing child development in food-insecure families. This study adds to the existing literature on the relationship between food insecurity, HLE, and child development and provides valuable insights for policymakers, educators, and healthcare professionals.

Available for download on Friday, October 11, 2024

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