Monday, June 6, 2011

The Connection Between Food Insecurity and Obesity

The latest data suggest that approximately 32 percent of children age 10-17 are overweight or obese. At the same time, approximately 16 percent of households with children were food insecure sometime during the year according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While it is clear that both childhood obesity and food insecurity are critical problems facing American families, the connection between the two is not always clear. In a report by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) titled, Food Insecurity and Obesity - Understanding the Connections, they begin to unravel the relationship between food insecurity and obesity.

It is clear that childhood obesity and food insecurity amount to very serious consequences for children. According to a report by the Department of Agriculture, Food Insecurity in Households with Children: Prevalence, Severity, and Household Characteristics:

  • Numerous studies suggest that children in food-insecure households have higher risks of health and development problems than children in otherwise similar food-secure households.

According to the Council of State Government Fact Sheet on Childhood Obesity:

  • Obesity can lead also lead to serious health problems for children; 32 percent of children diagnosed with diabetes were classified as having type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult onset diabetes, with obesity serving as one of the leading risk factors for developing the disease.
  • Previously rare in children, type 2 diabetes is becoming more common.
  • And of those children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, nearly 75 percent of them were obese. These children were also were more likely to have asthma, high blood pressure and high cholesterol than children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Whether existing separately or existing in combination food insecurity and obesity are having an effect on U.S. children in a way that is important for policymakers to understand, and address. To learn more about state strategies to prevent childhood obesity visit Policy for Results.