Household food insecurity and childhood overweight in Jamaica and Quebec: a gender-based analysis

Dubois, Lise; Francis, Damion; Burnier, Daniel; Tatone-Tokuda, Fabiola; Girard, Manon; Gordon-Strachan, Georgiana; Fox, Kristin; Wilks, Rainford
January 2011
BMC Public Health;2011, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p199
Academic Journal
Background: Childhood overweight is not restricted to developed countries: a number of lower- and middleincome countries are struggling with the double burden of underweight and overweight. Another public health problem that concerns both developing and, to a lesser extent, developed countries is food insecurity. This study presents a comparative gender-based analysis of the association between household food insecurity and overweight among 10-to-11-year-old children living in the Canadian province of Québec and in the country of Jamaica. Methods: Analyses were performed using data from the 2008 round of the Québec Longitudinal Study of Child Development and the Jamaica Youth Risk and Resiliency Behaviour Survey of 2007. Cross-sectional data were obtained from 1190 10-year old children in Québec and 1674 10-11-year-old children in Jamaica. Body mass index was derived using anthropometric measurements and overweight was defined using Cole's age- and sex-specific criteria. Questionnaires were used to collect data on food insecurity. The associations were examined using chi-square tests and multivariate regression models were used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals. Results: The prevalence of overweight was 26% and 11% (p < 0.001) in the Québec and Jamaican samples, respectively. In Québec, the adjusted odds ratio for being overweight was 3.03 (95% CI: 1.8-5.0) among children living in food-insecure households, in comparison to children living in food-secure households. Furthermore, girls who lived in food-insecure households had odds of 4.99 (95% CI: 2.4-10.5) for being overweight in comparison to girls who lived in food-secure households; no such differences were observed among boys. In Jamaica, children who lived in food-insecure households had significantly lower odds (OR 0.65, 95% CI: 0.4-0.9) for being overweight in comparison to children living in food-secure households. No gender differences were observed in the relationship between food-insecurity and overweight/obesity among Jamaican children. Conclusions: Public health interventions which aim to stem the epidemic of overweight/obesity should consider gender differences and other family factors associated with overweight/obesity in both developed and developing countries.


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