Nearly 23% of obese people in the United States have reported food insecurity, compared with 15% of people with moderate body weight. This association with obesity has more than doubled since 1999-2000, according to an analysis of recent trends in food insecurity.
“Food insecurity” refers to lack of access to sufficient food for an active and healthy life. In the West, this problem is most often caused by limited financial resources.
People with low food safety report concern that food will run out before they can afford more and cannot afford a balanced diet.
Internationally, food insecurity more often related to the frequency of conflicts and climate-related crop failures. Very low food security is more likely to lead to reduced food intake and malnutrition.
Although there are various levels, low food security can reduce “quality, variety and desire“From a person’s diet, even in rich countries like the US. Very low food security in the US, for example, leads to skipping meals and disruption of regular eating patterns.
The latest Census Bureau data show that before the pandemic, 1 in 10 respondents said that they “sometimes or often don’t eat enough.” In early March, this figure had risen to 25%.
Survey respondents cited not having enough money to buy food or unable to go out to buy food as reasons for the insecurity.
Food insecurity is associated with a variety negative health results. For children, this includes anemia, asthma, poor cognitive performance, and behavioral problems. In adults, there is a higher risk of depression, asthma, diabetes, and hypertension.
Meanwhile, the link between obesity and food insecurity has become a topic of debate. In 2011, a review of 42 articles concluded that while women with food insecurity are more likely to be overweight or obese, there is no evidence that food insecurity causes weight gain in the long term.
Recently, researchers have proposed a resource scarcity hypothesis to explain the ongoing link between food insecurity and weight gain.
According to the theory, increasing the intake of cheap, high-calorie foods forms a cycle of skipping meals and constant hunger. This, in turn, leads to physiological changes that promote fat deposition and decreased energy and exercise.
The new analysis is based on data from more than 46,000 US adults collected through National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The aim of the NHANES is to assess the health and nutritional status of people in the US through routine surveys.
To better understand trends in obesity and food insecurity in the US, an analysis from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, in Baton Rouge, LA, analyzed data collected between 1999 and 2016. Researchers focused on measures related to food security and body fat – an index body mass, or BMI, and waist circumference.
Their findings, which are published in the journal JAMA network, represents a significant increase in the level of food insecurity during this time, reaching 18.2% in 2015–2016. This is different from decreased in food insecurity prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the start of the study, in 1999-2000, 12% of obese women were food unsafe, compared with 7% who were not. In 2015-2016, the number of women with obesity and food insecurity has increased to 25%, compared to 16% of women with moderate weight, which researchers call a “normal” body weight.
In men, there is a similar trend. At the start of the study, in 1999-2000, food insecurity was more common in men of normal weight (10%), compared to 9% in those who were obese. In 2015–2016, food insecurity was more common in obese men (20%), compared to those of normal weight (16%).
“Food insecurity and obesity are not exclusive […] Rather, these health problems are related in such a way that the solution will require a public policy that addresses both at the same time. “
– Dr. Candice Myers, assistant professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and lead author of the study
The highest prevalence of food insecurity in sufferers obesity. This may be partly because the cheapest and easiest to find foods are often the least healthful.
The fact that food insecurity coexists with obesity – and in fact correlates with it – highlights the importance of making healthy, nutritious food affordable for all.
The researchers also identified differences that aligned with race and ethnicity, with food insecurity in 2015-2016 greater among black participants (29.1%) and Hispanic participants (35%), compared with white peers (13%).
The researchers observed that the increasing level of food insecurity following the start of the ongoing pandemic in the US is a critical public health problem.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly made the situation worse. This country may face long-term economic and health consequences unless we resolve this public health crisis, “said Dr. Myers.
The researchers recommend a variety of ways that public health professionals can combat rising levels of food insecurity – including using screening tools to identify people at risk for this problem, who can then be referred to support services, such as food banks.
They also recommend further research to better understand the relationship between food insecurity and obesity, as well as racial and ethnic differences in food security.
Dr. John Kirwan, executive director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, concluded, “Our research has set the stage for not only continuing our current efforts to explore this issue, but also developing new and innovative projects that investigate to understand its impact on the health of citizens of the community, country. parts, and our entire country. “
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