Food security, maternal feeding practices and child weight-for-length

Cristina S. Barroso, Angelica Roncancio, Michael W. Moramarco, Martha B. Hinojosa, Yolanda R. Davila, Elnora Mendias, Elizabeth Reifsnider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Over consumption of energy-dense nutrient-poor foods may contribute to childhood obesity. We hypothesized that greater than recommended servings of sugar sweetened beverages and foods, indicators of food security, and a high maternal recumbent weight-for-length are positively associated with high percentages of child overweight/obesity. Methods: This secondary data analysis consisted of a sample of 240 mother-child dyads. The original studies were designed to examine the effect of a public health nursing intervention on optimal childhood growth for low-income, minority children. Eligibility to participate included: 1) mothers self-identified as Hispanic; 2) children were 12-24 months old; and 3) children were enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); and 4) children were free of any major disease. Multivariate logistic regression examined the association between child weight, weight-for-length, maternal recumbent weight-for-length, child's eating schedule, maternal attitudes on feeding, food security, and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts and fatty meats. Results: Receiving SNAP was positively associated with child weight-for-length (WL). Children whose mothers reported ever having received SNAP were 2.01 times more likely to be overweight compared to children whose mothers did not report ever having received SNAP (95% CI = 1.04-3.90). Children who consumed desserts were 2.87 times more likely to be overweight compared to children who did not consume desserts (95% CI = 1.19-6.88). Also, child's caloric intake was significantly associated with child WL. Children who consumed more calories were 1.00 times more likely to be overweight compared to children who consumed fewer calories (95% CI = 1.00-1.00). Discussion: Research on food security and children's weight has reported mixed findings. Methodological issues have been identified as contributory to the inconsistent findings. Of paramount importance to these studies is the measurement of low food security. Conclusion: Children in this sample who were food insecure, as indicated by SNAP recipients, were more likely to have a higher WL measurement. Future studies should focus on the correlation between food security and hunger/satiety cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Nursing Research
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Feeding practices
  • Food security
  • Health disparities
  • Obesity
  • Weight-for-length

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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