Food insecurity is not associated with childhood obesity as assessed using multiple measures of obesity.J Nutr 2009; 139(6):1173-8JN
There has been extensive previous research examining the connection between obesity and food insecurity, 2 serious nutrition challenges facing low-income children in the US. All of this work used BMI to categorize a child as obese. Although BMI is one way to categorize the obesity status of a child, other measures have not been used to understand the connection between food insecurity and obesity. In response, this study used multiple measures of obesity taken from the 2001 to 2004 NHANES. The sample included 2516 children between the ages of 8 and 17 y in households with annual incomes <200% of the poverty line. Within this sample, 36.6% of children were in food-insecure households. The prevalence of obesity depended on the measure employed (BMI, waist circumference, triceps skinfold thickness, trunk fat mass, body fat), with prevalence rates ranging from 15.4 to 44.8%. Logistic regression models estimated the probability of a child being obese using multiple measures of obesity conditional on food-insecurity status and other covariates. The results indicated that food-insecure children were no more likely to be obese than their food-secure counterparts across all measures of obesity. This relationship held after controlling for other factors and examining subpopulations based on race/ethnicity, gender, and race/ethnicity and gender. These results suggest that efforts to alleviate food insecurity and childhood obesity will work independently.