Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Food insecurity and subsequent weight gain in women

Sonya J Jonesa1 c1 and Edward A Frongilloa2

a1 Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, 2718 Middleburg Drive, 2nd Floor, Columbia, SC 29204, USA

a2 Department of Health Education Promotion and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA


Objective Cross-sectional data indicate that a relationship between household food insecurity and overweight exists among women in the USA. Cross-sectional data cannot determine if food insecurity leads to overweight as some have hypothesised. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship of food insecurity with subsequent weight gain in women using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID).

Design, setting and subjects Panel data from the 1999 and 2001 PSID, a nationally representative sample of households, were analysed using multivariate regression procedures.

Results Average weight gain among all women (n = 5595) was 1.1 kg on average over the two years. There were no significant differences in the percentages of women who gained a clinically significant amount (2.3 kg) by food insecurity status. Overweight women who were on a weight-gain trajectory during the 2-year period gained less if they were food-insecure. This relationship was not observed among healthy-weight or obese women.

Conclusions Overall, food insecurity does not appear to be strongly associated with subsequent weight gain in women.

(Received October 21 2005)

(Accepted April 03 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email