Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research article

Internal validity of a household food security scale is consistent among diverse populations participating in a food supplement program in Colombia

Michelle Hackett1, Hugo Melgar-Quinonez1* and Martha C Alvarez Uribe2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

2 School of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2008, 8:175  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-175

Published: 23 May 2008



We assessed the validity of a locally adapted Colombian Household Food Security Scale (CHFSS) used as a part of the 2006 evaluation of the food supplement component of the Plan for Improving Food and Nutrition in Antioquia, Colombia (MANA – Plan Departamental de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutricional de Antioquia).


Subjects included low-income families with pre-school age children in MANA that responded affirmatively to at least one CHFSS item (n = 1,319). Rasch Modeling was used to evaluate the psychometric characteristics of the items through measure and INFIT values. Differences in CHFSS performance were assessed by area of residency, socioeconomic status and number of children enrolled in MANA. Unidimensionality of a scale by group was further assessed using Differential Item Functioning (DIF).


Most CHFSS items presented good fitness with most INFIT values within the adequate range of 0.8 to 1.2. Consistency in item measure values between groups was found for all but two items in the comparison by area of residency. Only two adult items exhibited DIF between urban and rural households.


The results indicate that the adapted CHFSS is a valid tool to assess the household food security of participants in food assistance programs like MANA.