Time spent on childcare and the household Healthy Eating Index

Benjamin Scharadin, Edward C. Jaenicke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Poor diet quality in the U.S. is directly related to high rates of a variety of diseases that disproportionally affect low socio-economic status populations. Federal food assistance programs such as SNAP and WIC attempt to mitigate these negative outcomes, but are limited by not considering household time constraints. Current research has investigated the link between time spent in food-related activities and household diet quality, but little work has investigated the link between time spent in childcare and household diet quality. This link is particularly important because a majority of food assistant participants are households with children. Using the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey and the American Time Use Survey, we investigate three increasingly detailed questions about how time spent on childcare impacts the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 2010, a standard metric for a household’s diet quality, for food-at-home (FAH) purchases. Although, we find that time spent in combined childcare is not associated with household FAH HEI, we do find a statistically significant relationship when time spent on childcare is disaggregated into its primary and secondary components. Time spent on secondary childcare is negatively associated with household HEI, while primary childcare is positively associated. In addition, when we investigate data subsamples, we find that participation in and eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program reduces the impact of these household time constraints. These results suggest that policies or programs that help reduce the time spent in secondary childcare may generate diet-quality benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-386
Number of pages30
JournalReview of Economics of the Household
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics

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