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Childhood Food Insecurity Tied to Poor Health Outcomes, Developmental Risk

But food insecurity for children 4 years and younger not associated with pediatric obesity, underweight

MONDAY, Sept. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Food insecurity is associated with fair or poor health and developmental risk but not with obesity, underweight, or stunting, among children aged <4 years, according to a study published online Sept. 9 in Pediatrics.

Chloe R. Drennen, M.D., from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues surveyed caregivers of young children to examine how food insecurity relates to obesity, underweight, stunting, health, and development among children <4 years. Correlations between exposure groups (food-secure; household food-insecure and child food-secure; and household and child food-insecure) and dependent variables were examined through age 48 months. Data were included for a multiethnic sample with 28,184 children, 27 percent of whom were household food-insecure.

The researchers stratified the data into four age groups: 0 to 12, 13 to 24, 25 to 36, and 37 to 48 months. They found that neither household nor child food insecurity correlated with obesity, underweight, or stunting, with one exception at age 25 to 36 months. However, both household and child food insecurity correlated with elevated odds of fair or poor health and developmental risk at various ages.

“With these study findings, we illustrate that although children in low-income families and communities continue to experience disproportionately high rates of obesity early in life, in most cases, this disparity is not directly associated with food insecurity,” the authors write.

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