Where Do You Go Hungry? An Analysis of Altitude as a Risk Factor for Food Insecurity in the Nossa Senhora da Vitoria Favela of Northeast Brazil

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Elizabeth Bradley
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This research evaluated the relationship between the geophysical location of a household and the food security experienced by its inhabitants in the Nossa Senhora da Vitória favela of Ilhéus, Bahia. Food insecurity is a major issue in Brazil; estimates claim nearly one third of the population is food insecure. I conducted a cross-sectional food security and demographic analysis of 30 households in a favela of Ilhéus, stratified into two groups: households located at low altitude versus high altitude. Participants were asked to answer an EBIA questionnaire to determine food security status, a demographic questionnaire, and a Progress Out of Poverty questionnaire to determine socioeconomic status. Of the households interviewed, 80% (24/30) were food insecure. Of these households, 58.3% (14/24) were mildly food insecure, 16.7% (4/24) were moderately food insecure, and 25% (6/24) were severely food insecure. Despite an increased relative risk (RR=1.18), altitude was not significantly associated with food security; however the favela reported substantially higher prevalence of food insecurity as compared to the Northeast region (53.6%) and the nation (34.8%). Future studies are needed to assess whether altitude is a risk factor for food insecurity in favelas and whether favelas throughout Brazil face disproportionately higher rates of food insecurity.