University of California

How can Californians be overweight and hungry?


Patricia B. Crawford
Marilyn S. Townsend
Diane L. Metz
Dorothy Smith
Gloria Espinosa-Hall
Susan S. Donohue
Anna Olivares
Lucia L. Kaiser

Authors Affiliations

P.B. Crawford is Nutrition Specialist, Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology, UC Berkeley; M.S. Townsend is Nutrition Education Specialist, Department of Nutrition; D.L. Metz is Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Solano County; D. Smith is Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Advisor, UCCE Calaveras and Tuolumne counties; G. Espinosa-Hall is Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Advisor, UCCE Shasta County; S.S. Donohue is Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Home Advisor, UCCE Butte County; A. Olivares is EFNEP Program Representative, UCCE San Joaquin County; L.L. Kaiser is Nutrition Specialist, Department of Nutrition, UC Davis. The authors acknowledge the Body Weight and Health Workgroup members who assisted in the design and implementation of the research: Nancy Feld-man, Mary Lavender Fujii, Joanne Ikeda, Nancy Keim, Cathi Lamp, Anna Martin, Rita Mitchell, Yvonne Nicholson, Laura Reed, Barbara Sutherland, Marta Van Loan and Gail Woodward-Lopez. In addition, we thank Katherine Flegal, Nancie Hughes and Leah Rimkus for their contributions to the preparation of this paper.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 58(1):12-17. DOI:10.3733/ca.v058n01p12. January 2004.

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The United States is experiencing an epidemic of obesity in both adults and children, particularly among low-income populations. In fact, overweight has replaced malnutrition as the most prevalent nutritional problem among the poor. We examine this seemingly paradoxical relationship and explore the causes and consequences of overweight, obesity and food insecurity. In a UC Cooperative Extension Body Weight and Health Workgroup study of 561 low-income Latino mothers and their young children, we found important differences in the association between family food insecurity and overweight status for mothers and their children. Forty percent of the women were overweight and 37% obese, and 22% of their children were overweight. Furthermore, U.S.-born mothers who were food insecure as children were more likely to be obese adults. Awareness and understanding of the link between food insecurity and weight gain will facilitate the efforts of schools, food assistance programs, the food industry and others in the community to provide effective nutritional programs.


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Crawford P, Townsend M, Metz D, Smith D, Espinosa-Hall G, Donohue S, Olivares A, Kaiser L. 2004. How can Californians be overweight and hungry?. Hilgardia 58(1):12-17. DOI:10.3733/ca.v058n01p12
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