Food Insecurity and Health Across the Lifespan 23 Apr 2012
The Great Recession has contributed to food insecurity across America. According to recent USDA statistics, almost 50 million Americans are living in insecure households. In October, Dr Donald Shepard, Brandeis University, wrote that nearly half of the households seeking emergency food assistance report having to choose between paying for food or utilities/heating fuel. Nearly 40% report having to choose between paying for food or their rent/mortgage.
In a symposium on “Food Insecurity and Health Across the Lifespan” held yesterday at EB 2012, San Diego, CA, Organizer Dr Mary Ann Johnson, University of Georgia, introduced the session and speakers.
Dr Craig Gundersen, University of Illinois, reminded the audience that people in their 50’s have among the highest risk of food insecurity, most likely because they may be unemployed and not old enough for Social Security or Medicare.
Dr John Cook, Boston University School of Medicine, highlighted the impact of food insecurity on academic performance, psychosocial function and overall health and development in children.
Dr Barbara Laraia, University of California San Francisco, discussed the extra challenges that food insecurity and limited access to food causes people with chronic diseases, eg diabetes. When food access is limited, it is even more difficult to make healthy food choices.
Dr Jung Sun Lee, University of Georgia, reported on ways the impact of food insecurity on health costs can be assessed, such as using Medicare claims.
The CDC released the Second Nutrition Report this month with information on 58 biochemical indicators. When a significant part of the population is clinically deficient for vitamin B6 (10.6%), iron (9.5% for women), vitamin D (8%), and vitamin C (6%), it is reasonable to assume that food insecurity is a contributor, and lower intakes of several micronutrients are seen in food insecure people across the lifespan. Nutrition can be improved.