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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether household food insecurity (HFI) is associated with a higher prevalence of excessive weight (EW) in a large random sample of Brazilian female adolescents. DESIGN: Nationally representative cross-sectional study. EW was the outcome variable (BMI ≥ 85th percentile of WHO reference for adolescents aged 15-18 years and BMI ≥ 25 kg/m(2) for those aged 19 years). HFI was measured with the Brazilian Food Insecurity Scale. Associations were measured using crude and adjusted prevalence ratios (PR) with 95 % confidence intervals through Poisson regression models taking into account the complex sampling design. SETTING: Data were derived from the third wave of the Demographic and Health Survey conducted in 2006-2007, in Brazil. SUBJECTS: The sample included 1529 female adolescents aged 15-19 years. RESULTS: The prevalence of any level of HFI was 40.8 %, with 26.6 % of households experiencing mild, 9.4 % moderate and 4.8 % severe food insecurity. The overall prevalence of EW was 21.9 % (12.9 % were overweight and 9.0 % obese). EW prevalence among those living in severely, moderately and mildly food-insecure households was 36.8 %, 14.9 % and 16.5 %, respectively (P for the overall association = 0.036). Women living in severely food-insecure households had an increased prevalence of EW compared with their food-secure counterparts (PR = 1.96; 95 % CI 1.18, 3.27; P = 0.007), after adjusting for important confounders. CONCLUSIONS: The study suggests that severe but not mild or moderate HFI is independently associated with EW among adolescents residing in Brazil, a middle-income country undergoing the nutrition transition.

Original publication




Journal article


Public health nutr

Publication Date





1854 - 1860


Adolescent, Body Mass Index, Brazil, Cross-Sectional Studies, Diet, Female, Food Supply, Health Surveys, Health Transition, Humans, Obesity, Poisson Distribution, Poverty, Prevalence, Risk Factors, Socioeconomic Factors, Young Adult