Obesity and hunger, all in the same country!

According to the USDA, in 2013, 14.3% of U.S. households were food insecure, meaning a lack of access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. This was divided into those with low food security — 8.7% — and  and those with very low food security — 5.6%. This translates into 17.5 million US households.

If U.S. households with children are examined, the food insecurity rate rises to 19.5% of all homes. Demographics further exacerbating food insecurity included households with children under age 6 (20.9%), those headed by a single woman (34.4%), and low-income households below 185% of the federal poverty level (FPL) (34.8%). Medi-Cal kicks in at 138% of the FPL. African American households have a food insecurity proportion of 26.1% and Latino households are at 23.7%.

Food insecurity in California mirrors the US prevalence rates. http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx

AND YET…

A recent JAMA Internal Medicine research letter by lead investigator Dr. Lin Yang reported on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) results which show that for the first time obese Americans (BMI > 30) outnumbered those who are overweight (BMI 25-30). The numbers in both categories are rising.

Based on the sample, from 2007 to 2012, 40% of men and 30% of women were overweight and 35% of men and 37% of women were obese. Only 33% of Americans ages 25-54 and 28% of those 55 and older were normal weight.

Dr Yang told Live Science that “a collaborative effort must be made…” Doctors need to discuss this with their overweight and obese patients. Food choice and consumption and access to affordable, healthy food, and transformation of the physical environment in communities all need to be addressed. More on this latter topic to follow.

Marshall Kubota, MD

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