Food Insecurity Linked to Adolescent Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome

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Study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic
Association examines the effects of low access to food in children

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–New research indicates that household food insecurity dramatically
increases the likelihood of metabolic diseases in children, with many
showing chronic disease markers before they graduate from high school.
The study published today in The Journal of the American Osteopathic
Association.

Food insecurity, defined as lacking access to food for an active,
healthy life, is a preventable health threat. Yet, lack of basic access
to food affects 14.3 percent of all U.S. households and 19.5 percent of
households with children.

“This is a looming health issue for the nation. The number of households
with severely low levels of food security among children almost doubled
between 2003 to 2010,” said lead researcher David Holben, PhD, professor
and department chair of nutrition and hospitality management at the
University of Mississippi.

To study the potential effects of food insecurity, Dr. Holben and
colleagues from the University of Mississippi and Ohio State University
administered the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey to a
cross-sectional sample of adolescents ages 12 to 18. More than 7,500
participants were interviewed in their homes and given physical
examinations between 1999 and 2006.

The data revealed that participants from households with marginally low,
low and very low food security were 33 to 44 percent more likely than
their high food secure counterparts to be overweight.

Children with very low to marginal food security were also 1.5 times
more likely to meet the criteria for central obesity, defined as having
excessive fat around the stomach and abdomen. Central obesity is linked
to heart disease and metabolic disorders such as diabetes.

“These families often have to make the difficult decision of choosing to
buy healthy food or buying food they can afford,” said co-author
Christopher Taylor, PhD, associate professor of medical dietetics and
family medicine at Ohio State University. “As physicians, we can help
our patients identify resources such as local food banks or the Federal
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to help bridge that gap.”

Dr. Ulrick Vieux, DO, MS, an American Osteopathic Association health
policy fellow and psychiatry residency program director at Orange
Regional Medical Center in Middletown, N.Y., explains that improving
access to adequate, nutrient-based food starts at school, where children
can potentially have access to all three meals which they might not have
at home.

“Many children rely on school meals as their primary source of
nutrition,” said Dr. Vieux. “Policies such as the Healthy Hunger-Free
Kids Act set nutrition standards and increase access to such meals. It’s
important that we advocate for policies like this to ensure our nation’s
children are getting the nutrition they need and avoid future
health-related issues.”

The
study
is accessible online until October 31, 2015.

About The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association

The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA) is the
official scientific publication of the American Osteopathic Association.
Edited by Robert Orenstein, DO, it is the premier scholarly
peer-reviewed publication of the osteopathic medical profession. The JAOA’s
mission is to advance medicine through the publication of peer-reviewed
osteopathic research.

Contacts

The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association
Lauren Brush,
312-202-8161
lbrush@osteopathic.org