Experiences of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Are Associated with Food Insecurity and Poor Health

Abstract: This study examines the associations of mothers’ experiences of discrimination (EODs) with household food insecurity (HFI), physical health, and depressive symptoms, while taking into account the influence of mothers’ Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and public assistance participation. Mothers (N = 1372) of young children under age 4 who self-identified as Latinx, Non-Latinx Black/African American and Non-Latinx white answered questions for a cross-sectional survey in an emergency room in a large children’s hospital in Philadelphia between 2016 and 2018. Logistic regression was used to model associations of EODs in specific settings with HFI, depressive symptoms, and physical health. Compared to those without EODs, mothers with EODs from police/courts and in workplaces had higher odds of HFI, AOR =2.04 (95% CI: 1.44–2.89) and AOR = 1.57 (95% CI: 1.18–2.11), respectively. Among Latinx mothers, EODs in school were associated with nearly 60% higher odds of HFI and nearly 80% higher odds of depressive symptoms. Latinx and Black mothers with EODs in workplaces had higher odds of HFI (AOR = 1.76, 95% CI: 1.21–2.56 and AOR = 1.46, 95% CI: 1.05–2.36, respectively), compared to mothers without EODs. Discrimination is associated with HFI, depressive symptoms, and poor health. Public health interventions intended to improve food security and health may be only partially effective without simultaneously addressing racism and discrimination.