A redesigned food insecurity question that measured food stress was included in the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in the Social Context optional module. The objective of our study was to examine the association between food stress and obesity using this question as a surrogate for food insecurity. Our analytic sample included 66,553 adults from 12 states. Food insecurity was determined by response (always/usually/sometimes) to the question, "How often in the past 12 months would you say you were worried or stressed about having enough money to buy nutritious meals?" T tests were used to compare prevalence differences between groups, and logistic regression was used to examine the association between food insecurity and obesity. Among the 12 states, the prevalence of obesity was 27.1% overall, 25.2% among food secure adults, and 35.1% among food insecure adults. Food insecure adults had 32% increased odds of being obese compared to food secure adults. Compared with food secure adults, food insecure adults had significantly higher prevalence of obesity in the following population subgroups: adults ages ≥30 years, women, non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, adults with some college education or a college degree, a household income of <$25,000 or $50,000 to $74,999, and adults with none or two children in their households. One in three food insecure adults were obese. Food insecurity was associated with obesity in the overall population and most population subgroups. These findings are consistent with previous research and highlight the importance of increasing access to affordable healthy foods for all adults.
Published by Elsevier Inc.