Poor health to food insecurity

Not only low income levels, but also adults suffering from chronic diseases adversely impact a household’s food security

By Indu Mathi S
Published: Tuesday 15 October 2013

imaeSOCIAL scientists attribute food insecurity to a variety of reasons. They can now add one more reason to the list. A recent study by researchers at the universities of Toronto and Calgary in Canada suggests that adults suffering from chronic diseases adversely impact food security of the household.

The researchers have quantified the likelihood of food insecurity in a household according to the number of adults having chronic ailments. The study says that in comparison to families where no adult suffers from chronic diseases, households where an adult suffers from one, two or three chronic ailments are 1.43, 1.86 and 3.44 times, respectively, more likely to face food insecurity.

The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition on August 28. The researchers analysed Canadian population survey data obtained from 77,053 adults, aged 18–64 years, from 2007–2008 for the study.

The scientists attribute two causes for the link between chronic diseases and food security. They state that the additional cost incurred in the treatment of the disease results in financial constraints, directly impacting food security. Another plausible cause, the researchers say, is that coping with chronic illness may limit a person’s ability to manage resources, such asÔÇêshopping around for a better bargain or negotiating with creditors.

“This (study) has important practice implications for health professionals who can identify and assist those at risk, but it also suggests that appropriate chronic disease management may reduce the prevalence and severity of food insecurity,” say the researchers.

Food security is a major problem in developing nations.ÔÇêThe findings of the research hold true for India as well, but the degree and nature of food insecurity is not clear.

Rajib Dasgupta, associate professor at the Center of Social Medicine and Community Health in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, says, “In India, food security has a completely different approach and it is wider in context.” He emphasises that though food security is related to chronic diseases, its most common causes in the subcontinent are poverty and unemployment.

Social protection for food security: a report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and nutrition

Global food security index 2012: an assessment of food affordability, availability and quality

Food insecurity and glycemic control among low-income patients with type 2 diabetes

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.