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The Hunger-Obesity Paradox: Exploring Food Banking System Characteristics and Obesity Inequities Among Food-Insecure Pantry Clients (PLoS One)

Publication Topics

California Health Interview Survey; 2011 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS 2011); 2012 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS 2012); Diet and Nutrition

Publication Type

CHIS Journal Article

Publication Date


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Summary: Heightened obesity risk among food-insecure food pantry clients is a health equity issue because the co-occurrence of obesity and hunger is deeply-rooted in systematic social disadvantage and historical oppression. This qualitative study examined key stakeholders’ perspectives of the relationship between the U.S. food banking system and obesity disparities among food insecure clients.

Authors conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 10 key stakeholders (e.g., food bank director, food bank board member, advocate) who are familiar with food bank operations. 

Findings: Multiple themes emerged drawing linkages between structural characteristics of the food banking system and disparities in the dual burden of food insecurity and obesity: access to unhealthy food from donors; federal emergency food policy and programming; state-level emergency food policy and programming; geography-based risk profiles; and inadequate food supply versus client need. 

Interviewees also identified social challenges between system leaders and clients that maintain disparities in obesity risk among individuals with very low food security including: media representation and stereotypes about food pantry clients; mistrust in communities of color; lack of inclusion/representation among food bank system leaders; and access to information.

Future efforts to alleviate obesity inequities among clients chronically burdened by food insecurity, especially among certain subpopulations of clients, should prioritize policy, systems, and environmental strategies to overcome these structural ans social challenges withing the food banking system.

This study cites data from the 2011-2012 California Health Interview Surveys.


Article 1

Journal Article The Hunger-Obesity Paradox: Exploring Food Banking System Characteristics and Obesity Inequities Among Food-Insecure Pantry Clients

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Press Release

Related Link 1

California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)

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Version: 2.0
Created at 11/17/2020 3:18 AM by i:0#.f|uclachissqlmembershipprovider|celeste
Last modified at 11/17/2020 3:32 AM by i:0#.f|uclachissqlmembershipprovider|celeste