In a recent study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association entitled “Food Insecurity and Its Association With Central Obesity and Other Markers of Metabolic Syndrome Among Persons Aged 12 to 18 Years in the United States,” researchers found that food insecurity is a health threat that may accelerate central obesity and metabolic syndrome in children and adolescents in the United States.
Obesity is a medical condition where the body mass increases to exceed 30 kg/m2 with the range between 25-30 kg/m2 defined as overweight. Obesity has been shown to affect health negatively by reducing life expectancy as well as promoting complications such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Though obesity may affect individuals of any age, obesity in children/adolescents has reached epidemic proportions in the 21st century worldwide. Various factors may lead to obesity including but not limited genetic risk factors, lifestyle, infection agents, growth hormone deficiency, and sleep deprivation.
Diet and eating disorders has been identified as playing a key role in the development of obesity. In this respect, in the recently published paper in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, researchers examined the influence of health by household food security status and the differences/popularity of central obesity in children/adolescents aged 12 to 18 years in the United States. The study took into account data registered by The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the period of 1999-2006.
In this study, influence of age, race/ethnicity, and sex differences on obesity, chronic disease, and rates of risk factors were investigated. In total, 7435 participants were examined and the results suggested that the children/adolescents that are marginally food secure (n=751) and low–food secure (n=1206) households were highly susceptible to be overweight if compared to high–food secure counterparts (n=4831). Furthermore, the data show that participants from marginally food secure households have 1.3-times higher chances to be obese. Also, 25% of the participants from marginally, low and very low–food secure (n=647) households reported central obesity that is 1.4 to 1.5 times higher than those from high–food secure households with 3.1% risk factors of metabolic syndrome.
In conclusion, household food insecurity is linked with an increased possibility of overweight and central obesity in children/adolescents. However, because a large number of children rely on school meals, it would be of great importance to set up proper food policies to ensure healthy nutrition and prevent obesity in children.