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J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Nov;111(11):1741-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.08.004.

Associations between food insecurity, supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits, and body mass index among adult females.

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Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27834, USA.


Obesity disproportionately affects low-income and minority individuals and has been linked with food insecurity, particularly among women. More research is needed to examine potential mechanisms linking obesity and food insecurity. Therefore, this study's purpose was to examine cross-sectional associations between food insecurity, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits per household member, perceived stress, and body mass index (BMI) among female SNAP participants in eastern North Carolina (n=202). Women were recruited from the Pitt County Department of Social Services between October 2009 and April 2010. Household food insecurity was measured using the validated US Department of Agriculture 18-item food security survey module. Perceived stress was measured using the 14-item Cohen's Perceived Stress Scale. SNAP benefits and number of children in the household were self-reported and used to calculate benefits per household member. BMI was calculated from measured height and weight (as kg/m(2)). Multivariate linear regression was used to examine associations between BMI, SNAP benefits, stress, and food insecurity while adjusting for age and physical activity. In adjusted linear regression analyses, perceived stress was positively related to food insecurity (P<0.0001), even when SNAP benefits were included in the model. BMI was positively associated with food insecurity (P=0.04). Mean BMI was significantly greater among women receiving <$150 in SNAP benefits per household member vs those receiving ≥$150 in benefits per household member (35.8 vs 33.1; P=0.04). Results suggest that provision of adequate SNAP benefits per household member might partially ameliorate the negative effects of food insecurity on BMI.

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