With energy prices rising and the cost of living rising, it is estimated that 4 million children from poor families have limited or uncertain access to healthy food.
My current PhD research studies how childhood food insecurity affects eating behaviour. Research indicates that childhood food deprivation leads to obesity.
a Study 2017 It found that children between the ages of eight and 10 from households without easy access to healthy food were five times more likely to be obese than those from households with adequate food.
The study, which looked at 50 mothers and their children, found that children in families where food scarcity was a problem ate food when they weren’t hungry and were more likely to eat five or more snacks per day.
This is what is known asinsurance hypothesisThe theory is that people who don’t have access to food eat more to store energy when they do have food to avoid hunger in the future when food is scarce.
But another A recent study conducted with 394 adults in the United Kingdom and found no difference in the total energy intake of food-insecure and food-secure subjects. However, what I found was that the diet of the people who did not have access to healthy food was higher in carbohydrates, with less fiber and protein than other people in the study.
The time gaps between when food-insecure people ate were also inconsistent when compared to those with easy access to healthy food. This may be for financial reasons. People who did not have access to food could not maintain regular intervals between meals but instead ate when food became available.
The results of this research are alarming because of food intake High-calorie foods (They are often high in sugar and fat and are classified as unhealthy food items) f Avoid meals It has been found to be associated with obesity.
She points out that eating practices that result from food insecurity are factors that can lead to obesity.
The emotional toll of a childhood living in poverty may also lead to obesity. 2018 Research review One of the factors leading to obesity in children is the role played by the family environment.
He points out that low income, inability to obtain or afford nutritious food, and stress from lack of income and food creates a negative psychological and emotional environment for children. This family disharmony disrupts homeostasis and the body’s ability to monitor and maintain its internal state.
This research suggests that over time this can lead to obesity. One way this happens is by overeating to deal with stress – what’s known as “emotional eating” – when we use food to calm ourselves or to make ourselves feel better.
Increased stress levels because I am Dysregulation Certain peptides and hormones in the body, such as insulin, cortisol, and ghrelin. In contrast, higher levels of these hormones and peptides are associated with increased appetite High-calorie foods.
Children are particularly affected because they are in the process of developing habits that will continue into adulthood. Negative emotions cause changes in parts of the brain responsible for brain development Habits and memory. If children eat comfort foods to reduce distress and this becomes a habitthey will use the same strategy to fight back future stress. Over time, this may lead to obesity.
Other research studies have explored the relationship between emotional eating and obesity. a study Conducted in 2019 with the participation of 150 adults, it explored the relationship between obesity, socioeconomic deprivation, psychological distress, and emotional eating.
It found that lower socioeconomic status was associated with greater distress and that high distress was associated with higher levels of emotional eating. In contrast, higher emotional eating was associated with higher BMI.
Research done At the University of Salford with more than 600 adults, they also discovered that food insecurity was associated with a poorer diet and that greater distress and eating to cope were associated with a higher BMI.
This research was conducted with adults rather than looking at the causes of obesity in children. But it does suggest that psychological distress and subsequent emotional eating is a pathway linking poverty to obesity.
What is more than studying carried out in the United States It was found with 676 adolescents from a variety of backgrounds that perceived stress, anxiety, and disrupted mood are associated with emotional eating.
In the UK, 29% of men and 27% of women are obese. This rate will be even higher in the coming years if more is not done to protect children living in poverty.
Khazra TariqPhD Candidate in Nutrition, Psychiatric Medicine and Brain Development Unit, University of Salford
This article has been republished from Conversation Under Creative Commons Licence.