Reconceptualizing the association between food insufficiency and body weight: Distinguishing hunger from economic hardship

Catherine E. Ross, Terrence D. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

What is the association between food insufficiency and body weight? Although common sense would suggest a negative association, research often finds the opposite. The authors contrast commodity theories of material privation with stress theories, proposing that the seemingly counterintuitive association results from the suppressing influence of economic hardship. Because it is a chronic stressor, economic hardship may be associated with increased body weight. Data from the Welfare, Children, and Families study of 2,402 disadvantaged women in Chicago, Boston, and San Antonio show that people who experience economic hardship weigh more; and that the true negative association between body weight and food insufficiency-especially going hungry because one cannot afford food-is revealed only after adjustment for economic hardship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-567
Number of pages21
JournalSociological Perspectives
Volume56
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Keywords

  • Body weight
  • Economic hardship
  • Food insufficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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