Association of food security status withoverweight and dietary intake: explorationof White British and Pakistani-originfamilies in the Born in Bradford cohort

Publication authors

T. C. Yang , P. Sahota, K. E. Pickett and M. Bryant



Food insecurity has been associated with dietary intake and weight status in UK adults and children although results have been mixed and ethnicity has not been explored. We aimed to compare prevalence and trajectories of weight and dietary intakes among food secure and insecure White British and Pakistani-origin families.


At 12 months postpartum, mothers in the Born in Bradford cohort completed a questionnaire on food security status and a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) assessing their child’s intake in the previous month; at 18 months postpartum, mothers completed a short-form FFQ assessing dietary intake in the previous 12 months. Weights and heights of mothers and infants were assessed at 12-, 24-, and 36-months postpartum, with an additional measurement of children taken at 4–5 years. Associations between food security status and dietary intakes were assessed using Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney for continuous variables and χ2 or Fisher’s exact tests for categorical variables. Quantile and logistic regression were used to determine dietary intakes adjusting for mother’s age. Linear mixed effects models were used to assess longitudinal changes in body mass index (BMI) in mothers and BMI z-scores in children.


At 12 months postpartum, White British mothers reported more food insecurity than Pakistani-origin mothers (11% vs 7%; p < 0.01) and more food insecure mothers were overweight. Between 12 and 36 months postpartum, BMI increased more among food insecure Pakistani-origin mothers (β = 0.77 units, [95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 0.40, 1.10]) than food secure (β = 0.44 units, 95% CI: 0.33, 0.55). This was also found in Pakistani-origin children (BMI z-score: food insecure β = 0.40 units, 95% CI: 0.22, 0.59; food secure β = 0.25 units, 95% CI: 0.20, 0.29). No significant increases in BMI were observed for food secure or insecure White British mothers while BMI z-score increased by 0.17 (95% CI: 0.13, 0.21) for food secure White British children. Food insecure mothers and children had dietary intakes of poorer quality, with fewer vegetables and higher consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.


Food security status is associated with body weight and dietary intakes differentially by ethnicity. These are important considerations for developing targeted interventions.


Ethnicity, Obesity, Food  security, Diet