Background

There is continued interest in the relationship between poverty and obesity, including risk factors during pregnancy that may increase obesity risk among mothers and infants.This study sought to investigate the effect of food insecurity on the reinforcing value of food during pregnancy.

Methods

We examined a sample of 258 pregnant women who were surveyed on current health, gestational weight gain, and their reinforcing value of meals, snacks, cognitively stimulating activities, and active activities.Food insecurity scores were calculated and compared with other measures of poverty and social class.Food insecurity scores were further examined using hierarchical linear regression models for its predictiveness of pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), gestational weight gain, and reinforcing values of foods and activities.

Results

The results showed that food insecurity was predictive of higher pre-pregnancy BMI lower odds of gaining within the Institute of Medicine gestational weight gain recommendations, and a higher reinforcing value of snack foods.

Conclusions

This results suggest that poverty, and particularly food insecurity has a global effect on health that begins pre-pregnancy, continues throughout gestation, and is likely to continue to influence the health of the offspring.Future research should investigate the longitudinal effects of food insecurity during gestation.