Skip to main content

Masa, R. | Chowa, G.
2016 | Ghana

Household food insecurity and future orientation of youth and their parents: evidence from Ghana

Social Protection

Background and Purpose: Food insecurity remains a global challenge. In 2014, nearly 500 million people were food insecure or lacked adequate access to food at all times (Rosen, Meade, Fuglie, & Rada, 2014). In Ghana, more than 3 million people are food insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity. Inadequate access to food negatively affects a broad range of individual and household outcomes, including nutrition, health and education. Further, a growing body of evidence, albeit mostly in resource-adequate countries, has associated food insecurity with poor mental and psychosocial health, which in turn, predicts numerous adverse outcomes. However, to date, little is known about the relationship between household food insecurity and psychosocial outcomes in resource-limited settings. Given the importance of food insecurity and positive psychosocial wellbeing, we investigate the relationship between household food insecurity and future orientation of Ghanaian youth and their parents.

Methods: A subset of youth (N = 3,445) and their parents (N = 3,398) from the 2014 Ghana YouthSave follow-up survey was included in this study. Food insecurity was measured using the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (Coates, Swindale, & Bilinsky, 2007). Youth future orientation was measured using a scale adapted from the School Success Profile (Bowen, Rose, & Bowen, 2005). Parent future orientation was measured using a scale adapted from Consideration of Future Consequences Scale (Strathman, Gleicher, Boninger, & Edwards, 1994). We used multivariate linear regression analysis with cluster robust option to analyze the data.

Results: Sixty-nine percent of youth and their households reported experiencing food insecurity during the past month. In terms of severity, 9% reported mild food insecurity; 25% with moderate food insecurity; and 36% with severe food insecurity. Higher levels of food insecurity were significantly associated with lower levels of future orientation among youth and their parents. Further, severe food insecurity was associated with worse future orientation scores among youth and their parents. For instance, severely food-insecure youth scored nearly 2 points lower on the orientation toward success subscale [95% confidence interval (CI) -2.69– -1.15] and nearly 3 points higher on the uncertainty toward the future subscale [95% CI 2.20–3.56], contrasted with food-secure youth. Severely food-insecure parents also scored 3 points lower on the consideration of future consequences scale than food-secure parents [95% CI -4.35– -2.03].

Discussion: Our findings indicate that higher levels of food insecurity contribute to a decline in levels of future orientation. Consistent with studies in resource-adequate settings, food insecurity adversely influences the psychosocial welfare of youth and their parents in resource-limited settings. Similarly, food insecurity should be considered an important risk factor for poor psychosocial outcomes. Further, poor psychosocial wellbeing (or lower levels of future orientation) might exacerbate food insecurity by depriving households the motivation and strategies to produce or obtain food. Appropriate and sustainable food security interventions are needed to mitigate the effects of food insecurity, including on future orientation, which in turn, predicts a broad range of desirable behaviors.

Masa, R. & Chowa, G. (2016, January). Household food insecurity and future orientation of youth and their parents: evidence from Ghana. Forthcoming paper presentation at the 20th Annual Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research, Washington DC, DC, January 13-17.