Food insecurity, psychological distress and alcohol use: understanding the salience of family roles for gender disparities

Gabriele Ciciurkaite, Robyn Lewis Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The goal of this paper was to expand upon research documenting the adverse mental health effects of food insecurity by assessing the explanatory role of gender differences in family roles and arrangements among a nationally-representative sample of U.S. adults. Using data from the combined 2011–2012 and 2013–2014 cycles of The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), we estimated a series of models using adult food insecurity measures and self-reported gender as main predictors of depressive symptoms and alcohol use. Our results demonstrate that marriage is protective against greater depressive symptomatology among women and men, and higher alcohol consumption among men. However, the protective effects of marriage against high alcohol use are reduced within the context of food insecurity among men. Further, the results indicate that parenthood is protective against greater depressive symptoms and alcohol consumption among women, but not men. The protective effects of having children are, however, diminished among women in food insecure households. These findings add to the growing literature on the mental health consequences of household food insecurity, and extend this work by clarifying ways in which family roles come to bear on gender differences in the association between food insecurity and psychological and behavioural outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-311
Number of pages18
JournalHealth Sociology Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Food insecurity
  • alcohol use
  • gender
  • marital status
  • parental status
  • psychological distress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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