Obesity, Food Insecurity and the Federal Child Nutrition Programs

Understanding the Linkages

From 2004 to 2005, staff with the Food Research and Action Center wrote a 33-page white paper on the relationships between poverty, hunger and "food insecurity" (defined as limited or uncertain access to nutritious, safe foods necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle), as well as the potential role of federal food nutrition programs in reducing both hunger and obesity.

The paper, entitled Obesity, Food Insecurity and the Federal Child Nutrition Programs: Understanding the Linkages, is available online.

Key Findings

  • In 2004, 11.9 percent of households in the United States were food insecure.
  • Rates of food insecurity in 2004 were higher for households below the poverty line (36.8 percent), households with children headed by a single woman (33 percent), African-American households (23.7 percent) and Hispanic households (21.7 percent).
  • A number of studies have demonstrated a strong association between food insecurity and obesity among low-income women.
  • Food insecurity results in poor quality diets, compromised child and adult health, mental health problems and educational deficits among children.
  • Federal child nutrition programs can play a crucial role in preventing both food insecurity and obesity, as well as in increasing economic security and improving nutritional intake.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this unsolicited project with a grant of $15,250.