Cookies on oxfam

We use cookies to ensure that you have the best experience on our website. If you continue browsing, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all our cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more Close

Our work

Gender & Development  is the only journal in the world to focus on international gender and development issues. It is a forum for all involved in development initiatives: policy-makers and practitioners, researchers both inside and outside academia, and activists.

The food insecurity-obesity paradox as a vicious cycle for women: inequalities and health

The food insecurity-obesity paradox as a vicious cycle for women: inequalities and health
18 pages

Papan, Andrea S.
Clow, Barbara

Sweetman, Caroline
Gender & Development Volume 23 Issue 2 Inequalities

Publication date
31 Jul 2015


Oxfam GB

Journal article

Poverty and income inequality undermine women’s health in a myriad of ways. This article discusses findings from the Full Plate Project, which addressed women’s experience of food security, obesity, and chronic disease in Atlantic Canada. Through first-hand accounts, it identifies a vicious cycle surrounding the food insecurity–obesity paradox. The cycle’s core elements included experiences of poverty, food insecurity and nutritional deprivation, weight gain leading to obesity, stress, and experiences of chronic illness. These mainly qualitative findings provide a vivid and multi-layered analysis of the effects of inequalities on health. A majority of Full Plate participants were lone mothers and unattached women, and existing outside of a two-adult member household framework. The vicious cycles experienced are intertwined and cannot be addressed by compartmentalising elements of health or social services. Evidence indicates that policies must respond fully to the social determinants of health and multiple inequalities related to poverty, gender, age, mobility, disability, location, culture, coping skills, and other dynamics.


This article is hosted by our co-publisher Taylor & Francis. To download the article for free from Taylor & Francis Online please use the link below. If you encounter any problems please email us at

For the full table of contents for this and previous issues of this journal, please visit the Gender and Development website.

Download this article from Taylor & Francis Online