The relation of cash transfer programs and food insecurity among families with preschool children living in semiarid climates in Brazil

Abstract Background Food insecurity has important effects on human health, particularly in children’s. It continues to increase, with an estimated prevalence of 14.9% in the USA and 35% in Brazil. There have been few studies on the effect of cash transfer programs (CTPs) on the prevalence of food security in Brazil. Objective Evaluate the association between cash transfer programs and reductions in inequity and food insecurity. Method Population-based cross-sectional study in the state of Ceará, Northeast Brazil, with a sample of 8.000 households. Ceará is one of the poorest states. The state population of 8.5 million inhabitants, social security benefits and government grants, “ Bolsa Família”, have become the most stable source of income. The main outcomes measures were food insecurity and CTP participation. Multivariate logistic models were constructed to assess the association between participation in CTPs and food security. Results Participation in CTPs was found to be independently related to the prevalence of food security (APR 2.29 95% CI 1.57-3.33), as are education level, residential setting, and children’s nutritional status. Conclusions CTPs and investment in education are initiatives that might be used to reduce food insecurity.