Food Insecurity Is Associated with Undernutrition but Not Overnutrition in Ecuadorian Women from Low-Income Urban Neighborhoods
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AbstractHousehold food insecurity (HFI) is becoming an increasingly important issue in Latin America and other regions undergoing rapid urbanization and nutrition transition. The survey investigated the association of HFI with the nutritional status of 794 adult women living in households with children in low-income neighborhoods in Quito, Ecuador. Data were collected on sociodemographic characteristics, household food security status, and nutritional status indicators (dietary intake, anthropometry, and blood hemoglobin). Data were analyzed using multivariate methods. The findings identified revealed a high HFI prevalence (81%) among the urban households that was associated with lower per capita income and maternal education; long-term neighborhood residency appeared protective. HFI was associated with lower dietary quality and diversity and an increased likelihood of anemia and short stature but not increased high-calorie food intake or generalized or abdominal obesity. Although significant progress has been made in recent years, low dietary diversity, anemia, and growth stunting/short stature in the Ecuadorian maternal-child population continue to be major public health challenges. The study findings suggest that improving urban food security may help to improve these nutritional outcomes. They also underscore the need for food security policies and targeted interventions for urban households and systematic surveillance to assess their impact.