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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Household food insecurity status and Hispanic immigrant children’s body mass index and adiposity

Author
item HERNANDEZ, DAPHNE - University Of Houston
item REESOR, LAYTON - University Of Houston
item ALONSO, YANELY - University Of Houston
item EAGLETON, SALLY - Oklahoma State University
item HUGHES, SHERYL - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/1/2015
Publication Date: 1/1/2015
Citation: Hernandez, D.C., Reesor, L., Alonso, Y., Eagleton, S.G., Hughes, S.O. 2015. Household food insecurity status and Hispanic immigrant children's body mass index and adiposity. Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk. 6(2):Article 14.

Interpretive Summary: Little research has examined the relationship between food insecurity and obesity among children of Hispanic immigrants. In a small sample of Hispanic immigrant children with an average age of five and a half years, data were collected on household food insecurity and height, weight, body fat, and waist circumference. In this sample, a higher percentage of food secure children were classified as obese. In addition, children living in food insecure households had lower odds of having elevated body fat percentages and lower odds of being overweight or obese. Based on this study of Hispanic immigrant families, food insecurity was related to healthier levels of body mass index in young children.

Technical Abstract: Despite the high prevalence rates of food insecurity and obesity among children of Hispanic immigrants, there has been a dearth of research on the direct relationship between food insecurity and obesity among this population. Further, prior research examining the association between food insecurity and body composition among children of Hispanic immigrants have not considered adiposity, specifically percent body fat (percent BF) and waist circumference (WC), as outcome measurements. The following study contributes to the literature by examining the association between food insecurity and two adiposity measurements, %BF and WC, along with body mass index (BMI) among a sample of young Hispanic immigrant children. Cross-sectional survey and direct body composition assessments were collected among 49 low-income Hispanic immigrant children (mean age = 5.5 years) and their 44 mothers (mean age = 35.5 years) from two Houston-area community centers. Data were collected on household food security status using the 18-item USDA scale, demographic characteristics, and measured height, weight, body fat percentage, and waist circumference from children and mothers. Sixty-five percent of children resided in a food insecure household, 31 percent of the children were obese in terms of percent BF, and 24 percent were obese in terms of BMI. A greater percentage of food secure children were classified as obese in terms of percent BF, BMI, and had an elevated waist circumference. A direct relationship was not observed between food insecurity and elevated waist circumference (OR = .08, p = .10); however, children living in food insecure households had 89 percent lower odds of having an elevated percent BF (OR = 0.11, p < .01), 93 percent lower odds of being obese (OR = 0.07, p < .05), and 87 percent lower odds of being overweight/obese (OR = 0.13, p < .05). In young children of Hispanic immigrants, food insecurity was related to healthier levels of percent BF and BMI. Studies that track adiposity and weight status of children of Hispanic immigrants in relation to food insecurity over time are needed to further understand why food insecurity and obesity co-exist for some groups but not others.