Low Food Security Can Increase Risk of Childhood Obesity, Study Finds

Oct, 2020 - By SMI

Low Food Security Can Increase Risk of Childhood Obesity, Study Finds

A study spearheaded by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported that infants with low access to sufficient and healthy meals are likely to weigh more.

The team tracked data of around 700 infants from North Carolina during the first course of their life through consistent interviews with mothers. Very low food security was reported by mothers and the infants were likelier to have higher BMIs, fat levels, as well as other indicators of obesity. The researchers suggest a correlation between food security and poor nutrition or overfeeding. Moreover, household food insecurity can be particularly harmful for infants as diet and weight gain during infancy can have a significant impact on potential risk of obesity and metabolic conditions. The data collection was done between 2013 and 2017 at the Bloomberg School's Department of Health, Behavior and Society. All the infants tracked in the study belonged to low-income households. 68.6% of the infants were African-American, 14. 9% were white, and 55.4% belonged to households with annual income lower than US$ 20,000.

The team compared weight and length of infants with healthy infants across eight countries to determine risk of obesity. Infants from low-income households were likely to shift into the overweight risk group during 3 to 12 months period. Infants from high-income households with high or border line food security moved out of this group during the same period. Furthermore, infants from low food security households were 1.7 times more likely to be at risk of obesity. Infants from acutely low food security households were heavier compared to infants from households that were food-secure, and had more accumulated fat as measured by standard caliper. The authors believe that long-term and larger studies can help in resolving the questions about food security and obesity, and whether it can extend into childhood.

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