As part of the Healthy Kitchens Healthy Children study on food security and nutrition in schools, a survey was administered by researchers in the Center of Research for Population and Health (CRPH) at the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) at the American University of Beirut (AUB), and the University of Maryland with the aim to develop and validate a child food security scale to be used in Arabic-speaking countries.
The study, the first of its kind, included more than 1400 children aged between 5 and 15 years old, attending UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees' (UNRWA) schools.
In line with results from a previous qualitative study, researchers showed that children are able to accurately respond to questions regarding their own experiences of food insecurity, including expressions of worry, physical hunger, and reducing the quantity and quality of food intake.
Further validation of the scale was conducted using Rasearch modeling, and by examining associations with sociodemographic, economic, household food security, and dietary diversity. Importantly, in comparison with household reports of food insecurity by parents, child-reported food insecurity was a better predictor of child school performance outcomes and school absenteeism.
This tool was shown to be appropriate to assess child food insecurity experience directly with children, and can be used in school-based interventions, where obtaining data from parents may be cumbersome.
The Healthy Kitchens Healthy Children intervention was set up as a school-based intervention linking community kitchens with a school food program, and aimed to improve nutrition and food security in urban refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon. The initiative is led by researchers in AUB and the University of Maryland.
Check full study HERE