Food Insecurity and COVID-19 May Worsen Both Conditions Interview with:

Jason Nagata, MD, MSc Assistant Professor of Pediatrics University of California, San Francisco San Francisco, California 

Dr. Nagata, MD

Jason Nagata, MD, MSc
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, California, USA What is the background for this study?

Response: During the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity is expected to rise given economic uncertainty and job losses. Vulnerable and marginalized populations are disproportionately affected by both COVID-19 and food insecurity. What are the main findings?

Response: In this perspective, we argue that food insecurity and COVID-19 can exacerbate one another via bidirectional links. Experiencing food insecurity can lead to nutritional deficiencies and weakened host defenses, increasing susceptibility to COVID-19 infection. Food insecurity is also associated with chronic medical conditions which may lead to a higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

Conversely, people with COVID-19 may not be able to work, generate income, or procure food while quarantined, which may worsen food insecurity. What should readers take away from your report? 

Response: Health care providers should consider screening their patients for food insecurity at each clinical visit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Brief (two-item) measures have been developed to screen for food insecurity. Clinicians can provide referrals and support for programs such as food pantries, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research should investigate the prevalence and incidence of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic and evaluate the effectiveness of various food insecurity programs and interventions during the pandemic.

Policymakers should expand legislation to address food insecurity as part of their efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any disclosures?

I have no conflicts of interest to disclose. 


Nagata JM, Seligman HK, Weiser SD. Perspective: The Convergence of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Food Insecurity in the United States [published online ahead of print, 2020 Sep 24]. Adv Nutr. 2020;nmaa126. doi:10.1093/advances/nmaa126


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Last Updated on October 7, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD