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Internal validity of the Food Access Survey Tool in assessing household food insecurity in rural Zambia

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We assessed the internal validity of the Food Access Survey Tool (FAST) using data from households (n = 907) enrolled in an efficacy trial of biofortified maize in rural Zambia. This scale assesses food insecurity over a 6-month recall period. A Rasch partial credit model was used to evaluate item performance. Unidimensionality was assessed by principal component analysis, monotonicity was assessed by non-parametric methods, and differential item functioning (DIF) by several characteristics was assessed by cumulative ordinal logistic regression models. One item (frequency of consuming three square meals) did not fit the partial credit model. The remaining eight items fit in a primary single statistical dimension and item category severity increased monotonically with increasing severity of food insecurity. We identified statistically significant DIF in three subgroup comparisons, but effect sizes of total DIF were considered practically insignificant (<2 %). After excluding the item on “square meals,” the FAST serves as an internally valid tool to measure household food insecurity in rural Zambia.

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This work was supported by HarvestPlus (grant 8251) and the Sight and Life Global Nutrition Research Institute at Johns Hopkins University. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of HarvestPlus. We also acknowledge the technical and analytic guidance of Dr. Keith P. West, Jr. at Johns Hopkins University, as well as assistance in the field from Ward Siamusantu of the National Food and Nutrition Commission, Zambia. MN and ACP had primary responsibility for final content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Amanda C. Palmer.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Na, M., Gross, A.L., Wu, L.S.F. et al. Internal validity of the Food Access Survey Tool in assessing household food insecurity in rural Zambia. Food Sec. 8, 679–688 (2016).

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