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The Relationship Between Food Insecurity and Overweight/Obesity Differs by Birthplace and Length of US Residence

2016 | Public Health Nutrition

The longer immigrant women reside in the United States, the greater the chances that food insecurity will affect obesity, according to this study by Suzanne Ryan-Ibarra, Marta Induni, of PHI's Survey Research Group, published in the Public Health Nutrition journal. According to findings based on a large representative sample of women in California, among immigrant women who lived in the US for 10 years or longer, very low food security was significantly associated with higher prevalence of overweight/obesity. Among immigrant women who had lived in the US for less than 10 years, low and very low food security were not significantly associated with obesity.

The study’s findings suggest that food insecurity may be an important pathway that may influence susceptibility to overweight/obesity as immigrant women live longer in the US. In the sample, 28% of all women in the study reported food insecurity (17% had low food security and 11% had very low food security). Notably, food insecure women were more likely to be immigrants, and immigrants born in Mexico comprised the largest group (33.6%) of all food insecure women.

See the full study or learn more:

Objective:

To examine whether the cross-sectional association between food insecurity and overweight/obesity varied according to birthplace and length of residence in the USA among California women.

Design:

Using cross-sectional, population-based data from the California Women’s Health Survey (CWHS) 2009–2012, we examined whether the association between food insecurity and overweight or obesity varied by birthplace–length of US residence.

Participants:

California, USA, Women (n 16 008) aged 18 years or older.

Results:

Among US-born women, very low food security (prevalence ratio (PR)=1·21; 95 % CI 1·11, 1·31) and low food security (PR=1·19; 95 % CI 1·10, 1·28) were significantly associated with higher prevalence of overweight/obesity, after controlling for age, marital status, race/ethnicity, poverty and education. Among immigrant women who lived in the USA for 10 years or longer, very low food security was significantly associated with higher prevalence of overweight/obesity, after controlling for covariates (PR=1·16; 95 % CI 1·07, 1·27). Among immigrant women who had lived in the USA for less than 10 years, low and very low food security were not significantly associated with overweight/obesity, after controlling for covariates.

Conclusions and Implications:

Food insecurity may be an important pathway through which weight may increase with longer US residence among immigrant women. Public health programmes and policies should focus on increasing food security for all women, including immigrant women, as one strategy to reduce the prevalence of overweight/obesity.

Authors:

Suzanne Ryan-Ibarra, Emma V Sanchez-Vaznaugh, Cindy Leung and Marta Induni

PHI authors, Suzanne Ryan-Ibarra, Marta Induni

Produced through PHI's:

Survey Research Group