Prevalence and contributing factors to recurrent binge eating and obesity among black adults with food insufficiency: findings from a cross-sectional study from a nationally representative sample

Abstract

Objective: Living in a food-insecure or food insufficient household may increase risk for binge eating and obesity. Because racial disparities in food access, obesity, and access to treatment for disordered eating exist, it is important to examine these relationships in Black populations.

Method: We conducted a secondary analysis of data from the National Survey of American Life (N = 4553), a nationally-representative sample of Black Americans, including African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans. Logistic regression was used to explore the association of food insufficiency with obesity and binge eating.

Results: In the total sample of Black Americans, the prevalence of food insufficiency was 10.9% (95% CI 10.0–11.8%). Food insufficiency was not significantly associated with obesity in Black Americans, but when associations were explored in analyses stratified by ethnicity and sex, food insufficiency significantly predicted an increased odds of obesity in Afro-Caribbeans (odds ratio [OR] = 1.47, 95% CI 1.01, 2.13). Individuals experiencing food insufficiency were more likely to report recurrent binge eating in the last 12 months (3% v 2%, P = 0.02) and a lifetime history of binge eating (6% v 3%, P = 0.004) compared to those who were food sufficient. After adjusting for socio-demographic factors, food insufficiency was not significantly associated with recurrent binge eating in Black Americans or in sex- and ethnicity-stratified analyses.

Discussion: The present study reveals a more complex relation between food insufficiency and binge eating than previously thought—although an association existed, it was attenuated by an array of socio-demographic factors. Our results also underscore the importance of considering ethnicity as different patterns emerged between African American and Afro-Caribbean participants.

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