Holiday hunger and parental stress: Evidence from North East England

Paul B. Stretesky*, Margaret Anne Defeyter, Michael A. Long, Liesel A. Ritchie, Duane A. Gill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Summer is a stressful time of year for many parents as they struggle to meet household expenses and feed children. The aim of the present study is to determine if there is an association between summertime food insecurity (i.e., holiday hunger) and parental stress among a sample of UK parents with school age children living in North East England. A cross-sectional sample of (n = 252) parents are analyzed using holiday hunger as the independent variable and a subjective measure of stress that treats summer as a 'stressful event' as the dependent variable. Of the parents in the sample, 64.8% reported at least some level of holiday hunger. We find parents facing any holiday hunger scored substantively higher on the overall 75-point Impact of Event Scale (mean difference = 30.4, 95% confidence interval ((CI) 24.2-36.6), the 35-point intrusion subscale (13.7, 95% CI 10.8-16.5), and the 40-point avoidance subscale (16.7, 95% CI 13.3-20.2). These findings are replicated in a regression analysis. In addition, we find that holiday hunger partially mediates the association between economic hardship (i.e., unemployment and poverty) and parental stress. We conclude by suggesting that government policies addressing economic hardship are not only likely to reduce holiday hunger, but also improve mental wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4141
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2020


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