May 26, 2015

Hunger Continues to Take a Toll on Health of Older Americans

Almost 5 million older Americans are food-insecure, and chronic heart disease and depression are just two of the health conditions that a lack of nutrition can exacerbate, according to a Bread for the World fact sheet released today. As more baby boomers enter their 60s, the number of food-insecure Americans will rise.

“As people get older, they should be focusing on spending time with their loved ones and enjoying their golden years. After a lifetime of contributing to society, older Americans should not have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World.

The leading causes of death among older Americans are cancer and heart disease. Food-insecure older Americans report more cases of heart-related conditions than their food-secure peers do. They are also 60 percent more likely to experience clinical depression. Food insecurity diminishes the nutrition intake of older adults by limiting the food options available to them. This is more pronounced in populations also facing poverty and racial inequality.

“Programs like SNAP, beyond buffering beneficiaries from food insecurity, afford the older population the option to eat healthier. However, participation rates in such programs among the older population remain low—especially among those aged 60 to 69,” said Beckmann. “Low participation rates are attributed to the stigma that unfortunately persists with such programs.”

Income inequality is also present and growing as the country’s oldest population grows. With the pressure of poverty and food insecurity, older Americans must find ways to address health issues, which are more prevalent as people age. Programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps) are crucial in breaking the harmful cycles of undernutrition and health problems among older Americans.

Tools
from our Resource Library

For Education

  • Election Resources

    One of the best times to raise the issues of hunger and poverty is during election campaigns. Engage candidates in your state/district on hunger and poverty using our elections resources.
  • Racially Equitable Responses to Hunger During COVID-19 and Beyond

    By Marlysa D. Gamblin and Kathleen King

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as when a person or household does not have regular, reliable access to the foods needed for good health. Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color (BIPOC) have historically had higher...

  • Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Global Pandemic, Better Nutrition Protects Lives

    With the coronavirus now spreading in low-resource contexts and new waves of infection expected in the coming year, better nutrition for vulnerable people is more important than ever.

For Faith

  • Finding Hope, Ending Hunger on Both Sides of the Border: A Bilingual Latino Devotional

    Devotional writers challenge us to feel the Spirit of God within us and to hear God’s urgent call to demand justice so all can put food on the table.
  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.

    The Bible on...

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

For Advocacy

Faith

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Insight

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