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Our aim was to determine whether food insecurity was associated with a higher prevalence of obesity in a large random sample of Brazilian women of reproductive age. The data were derived from the 3rd edition of the Children's and Women's National Demographic and Health Survey conducted in 2006-07. This was a nationally representative cross-sectional study. Obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m(2)) was the outcome variable. Associations were measured using crude and adjusted prevalence ratios (PR) with 95% CI through Poisson regression models taking into account the complex sampling design. The sample included 10,226 women from 18 to 45 y of age. The prevalence of any level of food insecurity measured by the Brazilian Food Insecurity Scale was 40.9%, with 25.5% light, 10.1% mild, and 5.3% severe food insecurities. The prevalence of obesity was 17.4%. We found a borderline effect of light food insecurity and increased prevalence of obesity in Brazil (PR = 1.16; 95% CI = 0.98-1.38; P = 0.08). Women with mild food insecurity had a higher risk of being obese than their food-secure counterparts (PR = 1.49; 95% CI = 1.17-1.90; P = 0.010) after adjustment for skin color/ethnicity, years of schooling, geographical region, income, age, and marital status. In conclusion, this study suggests that mild but not light or severe food insecurity was associated with obesity as assessed by BMI, even after adjusting for various confounding factors in this large cross-sectional survey performed in a middle-income country undergoing the nutrition transition.

Original publication




Journal article


J nutr

Publication Date





898 - 902


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