More California Residents Lack Access to Sufficient Food, Study Finds
More than 2.9 million low-income adults in California did not always have access to enough food to stay healthy in 2003, according to a report published by the University of California-Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The number was up from about 2.5 million in 2001 (Steen, San Jose Mercury News, 6/7).
UCLA researchers studied about 12,000 adults with household incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level. The interviews were part of the 2003 California Health Interview Survey.
According to the study, about 34% of low-income adults surveyed said they had to make daily decisions about whether to eat or pay for other necessities such as health care, up from 29% in 2001. About 41% of pregnant women ages 18 to 44 lacked sufficient food, up from 16% in 2001, and 20% of adults over age 65 lacked sufficient food in 2003, compared with 16% in 2001.
The increase in California "contrasted" with national estimates, which did not change substantially from 2001 to 2003, the Los Angeles Times reports. California has the 15th worst ranking nationally for "food insecurity."
Gail Harrison, a public health professor at UCLA who led the study, said rising health care costs are a possible reason for the increased prevalence of the problem, along with low wages, difficulty obtaining food stamps and rising household costs (Rivera, Los Angeles Times, 6/8). The report is available online.