15 Jan Food Insecurity Rises During COVID-19 Pandemic
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jason Nagata, MD, MSc
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, California
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Food insecurity is the inability to afford or access nutritionally adequate and safe foods for an active, healthy lifestyle. Rates of food insecurity were projected to rise during the COVID-19 pandemic; however, prior studies had not examined the association between food insufficiency, the most extreme form of food insecurity, and mental health.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Using a large national sample of nearly 64,000 adults, we found that food insufficiency rose from 8.1% to 10.0% during the pandemic. People of color and younger adults had higher risk of food insufficiency. People living in poverty or experiencing recent job loss were at higher risk of food insufficiency. Food insufficiency was associated with symptoms of anxiety, worrying, and depression. Hunger, exhaustion, and worrying about not getting enough food to eat may worsen depression and anxiety symptoms. Receiving food assistance alleviated the relationship between food insufficiency and poor mental health.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Clinicians should assess for food insecurity and poor mental health during the pandemic. Brief, 2-question screeners for food insecurity have been validated for use in primary care. Clinicians can also provide referrals and support for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future research should evaluate the effectiveness of various food assistance programs and interventions during the pandemic.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: People of color are disproportionately affected by both food insufficiency and COVID-19. Many of these individuals have experienced job loss and higher rates of poverty during the pandemic.
Citation: Nagata JM, Ganson KT, Whittle HJ, et al. Food insufficiency and mental health in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic. Am J Prev Med. 2021. doi:doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2020.12.004
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Last Updated on January 15, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD