Dr. Mithuna Srinivasan and Dr. Jennifer Pooler presented data from a representative survey of U.S. adults over age 50 that assessed food security and other factors, including loneliness, finances, housing and transportation challenges.
Pooler, J. & Srinivasan, M. (2018). Food insecurity and the social determinants of health. Poster presentation at the American Public Health Association Meeting and Exposition, San Diego, CA.
More than 1 in 10 older adults in the United States are food insecure, which can contribute to poor health outcomes including chronic conditions. Better understanding the myriad other challenges faced by food insecure older adults as they age could inform programs and interventions aimed at improving health and well-being.
Data from a representative survey of U.S. adults over age 50 (n=1,595) assessed food security, and other factors including loneliness, finances, housing and transportation challenges. Future concerns related to these topics were also collected. Descriptive statistics (i.e., frequencies) were calculated, and Pearson?s chi-square tests were used to determine significant differences between food secure and insecure older adults.
More than 16% of adults over age 50 experienced food insecurity in the past year, many of whom reported having to choose between food and medication (40%) or food and utilities or mortgage (49%). In comparison to their food secure counterparts, food insecure older adults were more likely to be lonely, have transportation problems, and have trouble getting around their home. Those experiencing food insecurity were also significantly more likely to have concerns about the future related to finances, maintaining social connectedness, and living independently.
This study provides additional insight into the variety of challenges and concerns food insecure older adults are navigating as they age. Ensuring adequate access to healthy foods and improving overall health may be dependent on identifying and working to alleviate additional barriers faced by this population.