Food security is defined as consistent access, geographically or financially, to sufficient, nutritious, and affordable food and has been theorized to be a cause of excess gestational weight gain. Women that only have access to fast food, for example, would be considered to be “lower food security”, and these women might be more likely to suffer from excess gestational weight gain because the food available is cheap, but high in calories. Having access to affordable and nutritious food has been linked to a lesser risk of impaired glucose tolerance. which is related to excess gestational weight gain.
It is not uncommon for there to be a correlation between socioeconomic status and food security; that is, women of low socioeconomic status have been reported to have low food security, particularly in terms of the affordability of nutritious food. Some women of low socioeconomic status claim that they feel pressure to eat more during pregnancy out of the fear that they are not providing their babies with enough food. With low food security, these women would consume high calorie food in significant quantities, potentially leading to excess gestational weight gain. There seems to be a negative correlation between food security and excess gestational weight gain that is sometimes related to socioeconomic status.
Regardless of a relation to food security, having a low income might also predispose women to excess gestational weight gain, yet the reasoning is unclear. One possibility is related to stress. Financial stress has been shown to be positively correlated with levels of CRP postpartum, a stress hormone associated with weight gain most likely because people eat increasingly unhealthy when stressed. Women with a higher monthly budget for food may have a healthier gestational weight gain, while those with less money allocated for food may be more likely to experience excessive gestational weight gain.
However, the opposite may also be true: wealthier women may be more likely to suffer from excess gestational weight gain. Women in wealthy communities have been reported to have higher postpartum weight retention than those in more poverty, and since women who have excessive gestational weight gain are more likely to retain weight postpartum women in less poverty might be more likely to have excess gestational weight gain. This suggests that a greater household income does not necessarily provide protection against excess gestational weight gain.