Preschool obesity and food insecurity link

U.S. children whose early years were spent in food insecurity and who have obese mothers are more likely to be obese in preschool, researchers say.

Study leader Elizabeth Metallinos-Katsaras of the Department of Nutrition at the Simmons College School of Nursing and Health Sciences in Boston said the research is based on analysis of more than 28,300 low-income children participating in a publicly funded health and nutrition program in Massachusetts, from 2001 to 2006.

Household food insecurity was based on parent/caretaker responses to a food security survey. The four items in the survey ask about the following aspects of food security status: Not having enough money to buy food for a balanced meal; adults cutting the size or skipping meals; and adults skipping meals or not eating for a whole day because there wasn’t enough money to buy food, Metallinos-Katsaras said.

The study found there is no effect of food insecurity on child weight among children whose mothers were of normal weight. However, among children whose mothers were overweight or obese, chronic mild food insecurity increased the risks of child obesity by about 34 percent.

“The research affirms that these vulnerable groups should be targeted for early interventions to prevent becoming overweight and obese later in life; some of this targeting includes the further alleviation of food insecurity in these high risk groups,” Metallinos-Katsaras, said in a statement.

The findings were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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