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Hunger and Obesity: The Connection


In 2013, about 65% of North Carolina food bank clients had a household member with high blood pressure; 37% had a household member with diabetes.

Why is that?

What does the face of hunger look like? Not only can it be a person of any age, gender, race, or ethnicity, it can also be a person of any size.

Food insecurity and obesity paradoxically often coexist, as both conditions share many of the same risk factors. These include a lack of access to enough healthy, affordable food, cycles of deprivation and over-eating, and high levels of stress. Individuals in low-income households and communities are disproportionately affected by obesity, diabetes, and food insecurity.

  • Individuals with food insecurity are disproportionately affected by type 2 diabetes. Because regular access to healthy food is a core component of diabetes management, food insecurity makes the disease harder to regulate.
  • Initial findings from a multi-year diabetes pilot study in three food banks suggest that there are many food pantry clients struggling with diabetes, and many are disconnected from the health care system (from Feeding America’s Fact Sheet: Food Insecurity, Health, and Diet-Related Disease)
  • To learn more, check out FRAC’s fact sheet on Food Insecurity and Obesity: Understanding the Connections

County Health Rankings

Overall Rank in NC

Limited Access to Healthy Food

Adult Obesity  %

Percentage of Restaurants that are Fast Food*

Percentage of children that qualify for free lunch

Wake

1

4% (38,115)

25%

51%

28%

Durham

17

6% (16,716)

29%

54%

51%

Orange

3

11% (15,204)

21%

43%

25%

Chatham

11

3% (2,209)

26%

40%

38%

Johnston

28

2% (2,801)

33%

59%

38%

Edgecombe

86

9% (5,364)

37%

64%

70%

Nash

61

4% (3,873)

33%

56%

54%

Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2014 , * Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2013

Childhood Obesity

North Carolina has the 11th highest childhood obesity rate in the nation.

Childhood Obesity (ages 2-18)1

  • Wake – 19.2%
  • Durham – 20%
  • Orange – 12.2%
  • Chatham – 18.4%
  • Johnston – 23.7%
  • Nash-  18.1%
  • Edgecombe -14.3%

Learn more and take action

Find out more about the complex issue of hunger and what you can do to lend your voice to the cause here.

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