Food insecurity increases risk of weight gain and complications during pregnancy

May 21, 2010

URBANA - A recent research study has shown that food insecurity, a person's inability to obtain adequate amounts of food due to resource constraints, can lead to greater weight gain and increased complications during a woman's pregnancy.

"Prior studies have shown that women living in food insecure households are more likely to experience health complications," said Craig Gundersen, a University of Illinois associate professor of agricultural and consumer economics and co-author of the study. "An area that hadn't been closely examined is the impact of food insecurity on pregnant women."

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, 14.6 percent of households were food insecure at some time during 2008, up from 11.1 percent in 2007. This is the highest recorded prevalence rate of food insecurity since 1995, when the first national food security survey was conducted.

"In the United States, we are very concerned about issues related to food insecurity," Gundersen said. "We are of course concerned about people going hungry and not having enough to eat. We are also concerned about the negative health consequences associated with food insecurity."

For the study, a total of 810 low- and middle-income pregnant women were surveyed during January 2001 to June 2005. Women were surveyed at the beginning of their pregnancy and a follow-up survey was administered after the birth of their child.

"We looked at the effect of food insecurity on a variety of health factors related to pregnancy," Gundersen said. "We found that food insecurity is associated with a higher body mass index, greater weight gain during pregnancy, and a higher risk for the development of gestational diabetes. These health issues are a concern as they can lead to assorted negative medical conditions."

Gundersen said an important federal program is already in place to address food insecurity in the United States. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, provides assistance to low-income individuals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the number of Americans receiving food stamps reached 39.68 million in February 2010, the highest number since the program began in 1962.

"Food insecurity is a growing concern for many U.S. citizens," Gundersen said. "The expansion of the SNAP program could offer major health benefits for people struggling to afford nutritious foods during these difficult economic times."
-end-
The research study was conducted by Gundersen in collaboration with Barbara Laraia of the University of California, San Francisco, and Anna Maria Siega-Riz of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.

Results of this study have been published in the May 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Related Pregnancy Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 has a prolonged effect for many during pregnancy
Symptoms for pregnant women with COVID-19 can be prolonged, lasting two months or longer for a quarter of the women who participated in a national study led by UC San Francisco and UCLA.

Relaxed through pregnancy
A group of researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have been able to show that maternal psychological wellbeing during pregnancy has a positive effect on newborn infants.

Trajectories of antidepressant medication use during pregnancy
In an analysis of women who started pregnancy when taking antidepressant medications, investigators identified three trajectories of antidepressant dispensing during pregnancy: more than half stopped their treatment, a quarter maintained their treatment throughout pregnancy, and one-fifth discontinued it for a minimum of three months and then resumed it during the postpartum period.

Are women using e-cigarettes during preconception and/or pregnancy?
A new study of 1,365 racially/ethnically diverse, low-income pregnant women found that 4% reported e-cigarette use.

A better pregnancy test for whales
To determine whale pregnancy, researchers have relied on visual cues or hormone tests of blubber collected via darts, but the results were often inconclusive.

Cannabis use during pregnancy
The large health care system Kaiser Permanente Northern California provides universal screening for prenatal cannabis use in women during pregnancy by self-report and urine toxicology testing.

Questions and answers about cannabis use during pregnancy
A new study shows that women have many medical questions about the use of cannabis both before and during pregnancy, and during the postpartum period while breastfeeding.

The effect of taking antidepressants during pregnancy
Exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy and the first weeks of life can alter sensory processing well into adulthood, according to research in mice recently published in eNeuro.

Is ivermectin safe during pregnancy?
Is it safe to give ivermectin to pregnant women? To answer this question, researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by 'la Caixa,' conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported cases of accidental exposure to the drug among pregnant women.

Going to sleep on your back in late pregnancy
This study looked at whether going to sleep on your back in the third trimester of pregnancy was associated with average lower birth weights.

Read More: Pregnancy News and Pregnancy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.