Food Insecurity and Chronic Health Conditions

September 29, 2017
Food insecurity can be more predictive of chronic illness than income. iStockphoto

Food security status is strongly related to the likelihood of chronic disease in general, and to the number of chronic conditions an individual may have.

Overall, adults with very low food security are 40 percent more likely to have a chronic illness than adults in households with high food security.

On average, the number of chronic conditions for adults in households with low food security is 18 percent higher than for those in households with high food security. Even adults in households with marginal food security were nine percent less likely to report excellent health than those in households with high food security.

Chronic conditions are costly both in terms of human life and in financial terms. Chronic conditions often pose barriers to employment and other life activities and can also hasten death.

Key Terms:

  • Very Low Food Security
    At times during the year, eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake reduced because the household lacked money and other resources for food.
  • High Food Security:
    Households had no problems or anxiety about consistently accessing adequate food.
"Food insecurity status is more strongly predictive of chronic illness in some cases even than income."

USDA Economic Research Service

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