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J Nutr. 2013 Nov;143(11):1785-93. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.178483. Epub 2013 Aug 28.

Chronic physical and mental health conditions among adults may increase vulnerability to household food insecurity.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, and.


Analyses of cross-sectional population survey data in Canada and the United States have indicated that household food insecurity is associated with poorer self-rated health and multiple chronic conditions. The causal inference has been that household food insecurity contributes to poorer health, but there has been little consideration of how adults' health status may relate to households' vulnerability to food insecurity. Our objectives were to examine how the presence of an adult with one or more chronic physical or mental health conditions affects the odds of a household being food insecure and how the chronic ill-health of an adult within a food-insecure household affects the severity of that household's food insecurity. Using household- and respondent-level data available for 77,053 adults aged 18-64 y from the 2007-2008 Canadian Community Health Survey, we applied logistic regression analyses, controlling for household sociodemographic characteristics, to examine the association between health and household food insecurity. Most chronic conditions increased the odds of household food insecurity independent of household sociodemographic characteristics. Compared with adults with no chronic condition, the odds of household food insecurity were 1.43 (95% CI: 1.28, 1.59), 1.86 (95% CI: 1.62, 2.14), and 3.44 (95% CI: 3.02, 3.93) for adults with 1, 2, and 3 or more chronic conditions, respectively. Among food-insecure households, adults with multiple chronic conditions had higher odds of severe household food insecurity than adults with no chronic condition. The chronic ill-health of adults may render their households more vulnerable to food insecurity. This has important practice implications for health professionals who can identify and assist those at risk, but it also suggests that appropriate chronic disease management may reduce the prevalence and severity of food insecurity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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