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Food-Insecure Children Found More Likely to Be Overweight

Study suggests impact of availability of food influenced by sex and age

THURSDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Girls in food-insecure households are more likely to be overweight than their counterparts from food-secure homes, according to a study in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Elizabeth Metallinos-Katsaras, Ph.D., a registered dietician from Simmons College in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data on 8,493 children aged 1 month to 5 years and looked at weight, height, and household food insecurity. They used logistic regression to calculate the odds of being overweight.

In all, 30.7 percent of the children lived in households where there was food insecurity, and 18.4 percent of the children were classified as overweight, the researchers found. Girls under the age of 2 years in food-insecure households had lower odds than their counterparts in food-secure homes to be overweight (odds ratio, 0.65), but girls aged 2 to 5 years were significantly more likely to be overweight if they were in food-insecure households with hunger, while food security appeared to have no impact on boys' weight, the investigators discovered.

"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 directionality of the association," the authors write. "Qualitative research is needed to establish the underlying behaviors that may affect development of childhood overweight among families with uncertain and limited food availability and how these behaviors may vary by sex."

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