Very low food security predicts obesity predominantly in California Hispanic men and women.Public Health Nutr. 2012 Dec; 15(12):2228-36.PH
A high prevalence of food insecurity has persisted in the USA for the past two decades. Previous studies suggest that the association between food insecurity and obesity may vary by gender and race/ethnicity. We examined whether food insecurity was associated with BMI and obesity within gender and racial/ethnic groups in a large, diverse sample of low-income adults.
A cross-sectional analysis of a large population-based health survey. We compared the distribution of BMI and obesity by food security levels within gender and racial/ethnic categories.
Data were derived from the 2003-2009 waves of the California Health Interview Survey.
The study sample included 35 747 non-elderly adults with households ≤200 % of the federal poverty level.
Among Hispanic men, very low food security was associated with a 1.0 kg/m2 higher BMI (95 % CI 0.3, 1.7 kg/m2) and a 36 % higher prevalence of obesity (95 % CI 17, 58 %) after multivariate adjustment. Among Hispanic women, very low food security was associated with a 1.1 kg/m2 higher BMI (95 % CI 0.4, 1.9 kg/m2) and a 22 % higher prevalence of obesity (95 % CI 8, 38 %). Positive associations were also observed for Asian women and multi-racial men. No significant associations were observed for non-Hispanic whites, African Americans, Asian men or multi-racial women.
Our results suggest that the association of food insecurity and obesity is limited to individuals of certain low-income, minority racial/ethnic groups. Whether targeted interventions to address food insecurity in these individuals may also decrease obesity risk deserves further investigation.