As per the results of a new study, household food insecurity is responsible for making children from low-income families overweight.
Published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the study involved almost 8,500 low-income children, aged 1 month to 5 years.
It suggested an association between household food insecurity and overweight prevalence in this low-income population.
However, sex and age appear to modify both the magnitude and direction of the association.
In the research article describing the study, food insecurity has been defined as the lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life, which results from limited or uncertain access to nutritionally adequate and safe foods in socially acceptable ways.
The cross-sectional study was based on demographic, anthropometric, food security and other health-related data collected from November 1998 through December 1999, on a sample of children and mothers from low income families participating in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for the Women, Infants, and Children) Program.
Data on the children's age, sex, parental/caretaker report of child race/ethnicity and maternal education were also collected.
Writing in the article, Elizabeth Metallinos-Katsaras, Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition, School for Health Sciences, Simmons College, Boston, said: "The findings of this study suggest that HFInsec (Household Food Insecurity) is associated with overweight prevalence in low income ethnically and racially diverse girls. Age and sex, however, appear to modify both the magnitude and the directionality of the association."
She added: "Future research should examine these associations using a longitudinal research design. Moreover, qualitative esearch is needed to establish the underlying behaviours that may affect the development of childhood overweight among families ith uncertain and limited food availability and how these behaviours may vary by sex."