Food insecurity and adult weight abnormality risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Research into the relationship between food insecurity and weight abnormality has yielded varied and contradictory results. Therefore, a systematic review and meta-analysis were carried out to examine the association between food insecurity and weight abnormality in adults.
Pertinent studies were identified by searching PubMed and Scopus databases, up to February 2018. Data were available from 31 studies. These studies were conducted in 14 different countries. The odds ratio of 115,993 individuals in these studies was pooled for the meta-analysis.
The present meta-analysis showed that adults in food-insecure households are more at risk of obesity (OR 1.15, 95% CI 1.06–1.23). Subgroup analysis by gender also revealed that women had a higher risk of obesity compared to men in food-insecure households (OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.05–1.46). Furthermore, subgroup analysis by food insecurity level implied that a severe level of household food insecurity may be associated with a higher risk of underweight (49%) than overweight (37%) or obesity (29%) among adults. In addition, subgroup analysis revealed that with lower levels of national economic development, the risk of weight abnormality shifted from obesity to underweight.
It seems that adults in food-insecure households, especially women, are at higher risk of obesity. The weight abnormality risk may increase with the intensification of the level of food insecurity. Also, the level of economic development is an important factor in the effects of food insecurity on weight status. However, due to the high heterogeneity among studies, the results should be interpreted with caution.
KeywordsFood insecurity Adult weight status Obesity Overweight Underweight
Bureau of Aliens and Foreign Immigrant Affairs
Brazos Valley Health Status Assessment
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals
Demographic and Health Survey
Food Security Scale
Household Food Security Survey Module
Household Food Insecurity Access Scale
Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker
Nepal Demographic and Health Survey
National Health Interview Survey
- U.S. FSS
U.S. Food Security Survey
World Health Organization
SM and KhM designed the research; SM, AD, AM and SH-R conducted the research; SM and HM performed statistical analysis; SM, KhM and AM wrote the paper; SM, HM and BJ contributed to the revision of the manuscript, KhM had primary responsibility for final content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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