Food economist Parke Wilde of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University analyzed 1999-2002 data from the continuous National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative survey of more than 10,000 Americans.
"To my knowledge, this is the first study to focus on the association between adults' food security status and change in weight over time, using national level data," Wilde says.
Wilde believes the research may have implications for federal food assistance and nutrition programs designed to improve nutrition and household food security for low-income Americans, which is distributed monthly and may be contributing to the problem.
"Gradual weight gain may occur from inconsistent access to food, leading to periods of underconsumption followed by compensatory overconsumption," said Wilde. "When money is less available, people may consume inexpensive, high-calorie foods."
The findings are published in the Journal of Nutrition.