Extreme Food Insecurity and Malnutrition in Haiti: Findings from a Population-Based Cohort in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Nutrients. 2022 Nov 17;14(22):4854. doi: 10.3390/nu14224854.


Haiti is one of the most food-insecure (FIS) nations in the world, with increasing rates of overweight and obesity. This study aimed to characterize FIS among households in urban Haiti and assess the relationship between FIS and body mass index (BMI) using enrollment data from the Haiti Cardiovascular Disease Cohort Study. FIS was characterized as no/low, moderate/high, and extreme based on the Household Food Security Scale. Multinomial logistic generalized estimating equations were used to evaluate the association between FIS categories and BMI, with obesity defined as BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2. Among 2972 participants, the prevalence of moderate/high FIS was 40.1% and extreme FIS was 43.7%. Those with extreme FIS had higher median age (41 vs. 38 years) and were less educated (secondary education: 11.6% vs. 20.3%) compared to those with no/low FIS. Although all FIS categories had high obesity prevalence, those with extreme FIS compared to no/low FIS (15.3% vs. 21.6%) had the lowest prevalence. Multivariable models showed an inverse relationship between FIS and obesity: moderate/high FIS (OR: 0.77, 95% CI: 0.56, 1.08) and extreme FIS (OR: 0.58, 95% CI: 0.42, 0.81) versus no/low FIS were associated with lower adjusted odds of obesity. We found high prevalence of extreme FIS in urban Haiti in a transitioning nutrition setting. The inverse relationship between extreme FIS and obesity needs to be further studied to reduce both FIS and obesity in this population.

Keywords: Haiti; double burden of malnutrition; household food insecurity; obesity; over-nutrition; overweight; under-nutrition.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Food Insecurity
  • Food Supply*
  • Haiti / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition* / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology