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Gender bias in the food insecurity experience of Ethiopian adolescents

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  • Hadley, Craig
  • Lindstrom, David
  • Tessema, Fasil
  • Belachew, Tefara
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    Abstract

    Food insecurity is a pressing public health concern in many developing countries. Despite widespread interest in the sociocultural determinants of food insecurity, little is known about whether youths living in food insecure households experience food insecurity. The buffering hypothesis reviewed here assumes that, to the extent possible, adult members of households will buffer younger household members from the ill effects of food insecurity. A variant of the buffering hypothesis argues that only certain members of the households will enjoy the benefits of buffering. We hypothesize that within the context of Ethiopia, where girls have historically experienced discrimination, buffering is preferentially aimed at boys, especially as the household experiences greater levels of food stress. These hypotheses are tested using data from a population-based study of 2084 adolescents living in southwestern Ethiopia. Results indicate that boys and girls were equally likely to be living in severely food insecure households. Despite no differences in their households' food insecurity status, girls were more likely than boys to report being food insecure themselves. This gender difference was the largest in severely food insecure households. This same pattern was observed when comparing male-female sibling pairs living in the same household. These results are among the first to show that household level measures of food insecurity predict adolescent experiences of food insecurity, and that in the Ethiopian socio-cultural context, the relationship between household level food insecurity and adolescent food insecurity varies by gender. We also show that adolescent food insecurity is strongly associated with measures of general health and well-being.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 66 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 2 (January)
    Pages: 427-438

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:66:y:2008:i:2:p:427-438

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    Keywords: Food security Nutrition Discrimination Ethiopia Africa Intra-household Adolescents Gender;

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    Cited by:
    1. Nanama, Siméon & Frongillo, Edward A., 2012. "Altered social cohesion and adverse psychological experiences with chronic food insecurity in the non-market economy and complex households of Burkina Faso," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 444-451.
    2. Tsai, Alexander C. & Bangsberg, David R. & Frongillo, Edward A. & Hunt, Peter W. & Muzoora, Conrad & Martin, Jeffrey N. & Weiser, Sheri D., 2012. "Food insecurity, depression and the modifying role of social support among people living with HIV/AIDS in rural Uganda," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(12), pages 2012-2019.
    3. Nanama, Siméon & Frongillo, Edward A., 2012. "Women’s rank modifies the relationship between household and women’s food insecurity in complex households in northern Burkina Faso," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 217-225.
    4. Wells, Jonathan C.K. & Marphatia, Akanksha A. & Cole, Tim J. & McCoy, David, 2012. "Associations of economic and gender inequality with global obesity prevalence: Understanding the female excess," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 482-490.
    5. Piperata, Barbara A. & Schmeer, Kammi K. & Hadley, Craig & Ritchie-Ewing, Genevieve, 2013. "Dietary inequalities of mother–child pairs in the rural Amazon: Evidence of maternal-child buffering?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 183-191.
    6. Hadley, Craig & Linzer, Drew A. & Belachew, Tefera & Mariam, Abebe Gebre & Tessema, Fasil & Lindstrom, David, 2011. "Household capacities, vulnerabilities and food insecurity: Shifts in food insecurity in urban and rural Ethiopia during the 2008 food crisis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(10), pages 1534-1542.
    7. Kuku, Oluyemisi & Gundersen, Craig & Garasky, Steven, 2011. "Differences in food insecurity between adults and children in Zimbabwe," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 311-317, April.

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