Food Insecurity Linked to Poor Health Among Hispanic Californians
Food insecurity is linked to negative health outcomes, such as psychological distress, according to a CDC study of Californians who identify as Hispanic, California Health Report reports (Guzik, California Health Report, 12/10).
Details of Study
Researchers examined 10,966 California adults who identified as Hispanic and had incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level. They culled data from the California Health Interview Survey from 2007, 2009 and 2011-2012.
Nearly 30% of individuals in the study reported low food security. Such individuals were nearly twice as likely to report that they experienced psychological distress in the past month, compared with individuals who did not report low food security. In addition, 13% of individuals in the study reported very low food security, and those individuals were more than four times as likely to experience psychological distress (CDC study, 11/25).
The researchers wrote, "We found that food insecurity was prevalent among Hispanic people living in poverty and was significantly associated with past month [serious psychological distress]."
According to the study, food insecurity also can lead to other health issues, such as:
- Gastrointestinal infections;
- Mental illness;
- Obesity; and
- Poor diet.
"These results demonstrate the need for further targeted public health efforts, such as community gardens led by [health promoters], faith-based initiatives and initiatives to reduce barriers to participation in food-assistance programs," the authors wrote.
The researchers recommended that the government improve the accessibility of food assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. "Given the high prevalence of low and very low food security among the adult Hispanic population living in poverty, heightened efforts to improve food security are critical, especially in light of the negative health effects noted in the literature and our study," the researchers wrote (California Health Report, 12/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.