Assessing Inconsistency in Home Food Supply and Association with Brain Activation for Palatable Foods Among Low-Income Women
Current Developments in Nutrition
Objectives The objectives of this study were to investigate: 1) home food availability and dietary pattern in the beginning and end of the month, and; 2) brain activation for highly palatable and nutrient-dense food stimuli, among low-income women prone to food insecurity. Methods An in-depth exploratory study was conducted with low-income women receiving SNAP (n = 13) involving home food inventories, 24-h diet recalls and brain MRIs at two time points of 'beginning' and 'end' of month. Upon
... ' of month. Upon meeting the following main selection criteria: 1) 18 years or older; 2) no absolute and relative MRI contraindications, women provided their informed consent. Participants' individual dates of monthly income and benefits receipt were used to define the 'beginning of the month' period as 1–7 days within receiving benefits and the 'end of the month' period starting 21–30 days following. Interviews and MRI scans were completed during these periods. Functional MRI scans were conducted to measure brain activation in response to both highly palatable and nutrient-dense food image stimuli. The study was approved by the UNC-Greensboro IRB. Frequencies, descriptives, and nonparametric statistical tests were used in analysis and results were considered statistically significant at P < 0.10. Results Comparison of home food indicated there was a significant decrease in variety of food in the end of the month period with specific reduction in fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and meat groups. Food insecurity was prevalent (69%) among participants, where one-third of the participants reported running out of food at the end of the month. In dietary pattern, mean percentage of total energy intake by carbohydrates and added sugars increased in the end of the month. For instance, 42% of total energy intake came from carbohydrates in the beginning of the month vs. 48% in the end of month. Analysis of brain MRI scan data is currently underway to investigate overall and monthly differences in sensitivity to food between beginning and end of the month. Conclusions Inconsistency in food availability is occurring in low-income households related to monthly food resources. It is possible that food insecurity affects food habits through a bio-behavioral pathway of increasing sensitivity and liking for highly palatable food to negate inconsistency in household food availability. Funding Sources UNCG internal funding.