Edward A. Frongillo; Jennifer Bernal
Coexistence of food insecurity and obesity is expected given that both are consequences of economic and social disadvantage. Food insecurity and obesity are positively associated in adult women but not men. There is some evidence of association in adolescents, but mixed results for children. Distinct from adults, children experience cognitive, emotional, and physical awareness of food insecurity and take responsibility for it by participating in adult strategies, initiating their own strategies, and taking action to obtain additional food or money for food. Food insecurity is detrimental for children, being associated with behavior problems, disrupted social interactions, compromised school performance and attendance, poor dietary intake and physical activity, altered daily activities, and poor health. Some of these outcomes increase the risk of developing obesity. From life course, cumulative inequality, and developmental perspectives, child food insecurity may have long-term effects, including on risk of obesity. Pediatricians can help identify and respond to children who are food-insecure and at risk of obesity.