Health Services Research & Development

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Distel LML, Egbert AH, Bohnert AM, Santiago CD. Chronic Stress and Food Insecurity: Examining Key Environmental Family Factors Related to Body Mass Index Among Low-Income Mexican-Origin Youth. Family & Community Health. 2019 Jul 1; 42(3):213-220.
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Abstract: Low-income children of Mexican immigrants are at high risk for obesity. Drawing on a sample of 104 Mexican American children (Mage = 8.39 years; 61% female), this longitudinal study considered relations between food insecurity and chronic stress (ie, parent report and hair cortisol measurement) on body mass index (BMI) and examined whether stress moderated associations between food insecurity and BMI. Analyses revealed that undocumented status was associated with food insecurity and chronic stress but not when accounting for poverty. Food insecurity was only associated with higher BMI for children with the highest hair cortisol. Results suggest that chronic stress may impact body weight among food-insecure children.