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Researcher from University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) assesses the link between food-related hardships and obesity. Using the data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) and Center for Disease Control's (CDC) Modified Retail Food Environment Index (mRFEI) — a national sample that measures food deserts, their study is the first of its kind to assess the relationship between experiencing food insecurity and living in a food desert on obesity.
As per the survey report to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, over one-third of U.S. adults are obese. At the same time, obesity is the second leading cause of premature death in the North America and Europe.
Regarding the study results, Professor Testa stated, "Our study highlights the importance of adequate nutrition for health. Millions of Americans do not have enough food to eat and live in communities where affordable healthy food options are not available. To combat obesity, it is important to ensure that people have consistent access to nutritious food."
When taking gender and race into account, the researchers observed that women are more likely to exhibit obesity as a result of food insecurity, compared to men. This may be because women are more likely to shield their children from food insecurity by reducing their own nutritional intake. Overall, Black and Hispanic households are at a higher risk for food insecurity in the United States.
"The lack of access to food can be a major stressor on individuals, and our study finds that experiencing food hardships is particularly consequential for the health of women" said Professor Jackson.
In the future, the authors plan to continue to research how difficulties obtaining nutritious food are related to health problems and explore which types of programs may be effective in improving nutrition and health in the United States.
Story sources/Credit : University of Texas at San Antonio.