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Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Nov;80(5):1372-8.

Choice of instrument influences relations between food insecurity and obesity in Latino women.

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Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, USA.



The results of studies examining food insecurity and obesity in adults are conflicting. Discrepancies could be due to the use of different instruments or to cultural factors that influence response patterns.


The goal was to examine the relation of food insecurity to weight status in low-income Latino women.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 559 low-income Latino women selected by convenience sampling. The survey included the 18-item US Household Food Security Scale, 2 items related to current and past food insufficiency, demographic information, and measured heights and weights. Data were collected between February and May 2001 in 6 California counties. The main outcomes were frequency of overweight and obesity, defined by a body mass index (in kg/m(2)) of 25-29.9 (overweight) and >30 (obese). Data analysis included analysis of variance, Mantel-Haenszel chi-square test, and logistic regression.


The prevalence of food insecurity was 50-60%, and that of obesity was 37.4%. Controlling for years spent in the United States, per capita income, and parity, food insecurity with hunger, measured by the 10-item adult scale of the Food Security Scale, was significantly related to obesity (OR: 1.98; 95% CI: 1.14, 3.53). No interaction between years spent in the United States and current food insecurity was observed. Current food insufficiency, as measured by a single item, was not related to obesity. However, severe past food insufficiency was related to obesity in the US-born population only.


Food insecurity appears to be related to obesity in Latino women, but choice of instruments might influence the results.

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