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An Examination of the Relationship between Food Security and Body Weight in Children

posted Oct 29, 2019, 3:47 AM by Sara D. Topciu   [ updated Oct 29, 2019, 3:53 AM ]
Elyse Barletta-Sherwin1 & Ramona Stone
Journal of Social Research & PolicyVolume: 9, Issue: 2
, Online First
Date: December 2018
ISSN: 2067-2640 (print), 2068-9861 (electronic)

Abstract: This observational study examined the association between food security and healthy weight in children ages 6 to 12, using the 2013-2014 NHANES cross-sectional survey. The relationship between children’s food security and their weight was tested using logistic regression, while controlling for race, gender, physical activity, and poverty level. A significant association was found; children in households with low or very low food security were about 2.4 times more likely to be overweight than those with full or marginally secure food. Hispanic and multi-racial children were more than twice as likely to be overweight than white children. Children from low-income families, yet ineligible for food subsidies, were 62.4% more likely to be overweight or obese than those in higher income brackets. The significant relationship between food security and children’s weight suggests that the current eligibility criteria for federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, and the types of approved subsidized foods, should be revised so that low-income children have better access to higher-quality food. Gaps in access to nutritious food are indicative of larger social, political, and economic problems adversely impacting the health of children in economically disadvantaged groups. 

Keywords: food security; childhood obesity; health disparities; food assistance. 

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Sara D. Topciu,
Oct 29, 2019, 3:47 AM