Alan Duffy

Becker C. B., Middlemass K., Taylor B., Johnson C., & Gomez F. Food insecurity and eating disorder pathology. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2017;50:1031-1040. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.22735

Food insecurity is a term used to describe inadequate access to sufficient food, both in terms of quantity and nutritional quality, secondary to a lack of financial and other resources. One in six Americans are estimated to be affected by food insecurity.

The current study investigated eating disorder (ED) pathology in those living with food insecurity (FI). Participants were recruited from those seeking food from San Antonio Food Bank. Each participant was asked to complete standardized measures concerning food insecurity, ED pathology, anxiety, and weight stigma. Consistent with the authors’ hypotheses, increased levels of FI were associated with increased levels of ED pathology. Weight stigma also increased among those with high levels of FI. Of note, the highest levels of ED pathology and weight stigma impacted those reporting child hunger in their home.

Why is this important?

This is the first comprehensive study examining the correlation between FI and ED pathology. Given the increasing global concern about FI, and the suggested association with increased levels of ED pathology in this study, further research in the area is merited.  With anti-obesity campaigns often targeting those with the highest levels of FI, the noted weight stigma in this sample may also suggest a need for better understanding about the impact of social messages about weight, and FI, on ED pathology in often marginalized groups. The heightened reports of ED pathology in homes where childhood hunger is an issue may also be a cause for inquiry into addressing these concerns in young adolescents.

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