Purpose: High-rate, persistent criminal offending has substantial negative health consequences. This study examines how criminal offending trajectories during adolescence influence the risk of food insecurity in early adulthood. Methods: The study uses four waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to determine the association between criminal offending trajectory membership and food insecurity. The analysis controls for individual- and neighborhood-level risk factors and assesses the mediating effects of depression and household income. Results: Five distinct offending trajectories were established using a group-based trajectory model. Membership in various offending trajectories predicts an increased risk for food insecurity. Those in high-rate, chronic-offending trajectories have the highest risk of food insecurity in early adulthood (OR = 2.062; P < .01). These effects are significantly attenuated by depressive symptoms. Conclusions: This is the first study to test the association between criminal offending trajectory membership from adolescence through young adulthood and the risk of food insecurity in adulthood. Access to nutrition assistance and support among individuals with chronic-offending histories may minimize the risk of food insecurity. Those embedded in disadvantaged contexts are likely at a heightened risk. Improvements to mental health services and employment opportunities may reduce food insecurity among these vulnerable populations.
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