Food Insecurity Is Associated with Health Status of Older Adults Participating in The Commodity Supplemental Food Program in A Rural Appalachian Ohio County

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Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition


Context. Food insecurity is associated with poorer nutritional and health status among older adults. Objectives. To assess the household food security and health status of older adults participating in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and to determine the relationship of these factors. Design. A telephone survey conducted during Spring 2004 that included the 18-item Food Security Survey Module and SF-36 health status questionnaire. Setting. Athens County, Ohio, located in rural, Appalachian Ohio. Participants. Convenience sample of older adults 60 years and older [n = 91; 71.0y (8.1 SD)] receiving CSFP benefits and living in households located in Athens County, Ohio. Main Outcome Measures. Household food security status (U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module) and health status (SF-36) (physical and mental health scores in eight areas: Physical functioning, role-physical, bodily pain, general health, vitality, social functioning, role-emotional, mental health). It was hypothesized that food insecurity would be associated with poorer health status. Results. Forty-six (50.5%), 36 (39.6%), and 9 (9.9%) subjects were from food secure, food insecure without hunger, and food insecure with hunger households, respectively. Consistent with other reports, all health scores worsened as household food security status worsened (physical functioning, p = .018; role-physical, p = .005; bodily pain, p < .001; general health, p < .001; vitality, p = .029; social functioning, p = .009; role-emotional, p = .007; mental health, p = .009), and health status was greater for those from food secure compared with food insecure households for 7 of 8 scores (physical functioning, p = .025; role-physical, p = .016; bodily pain, p = .002; general health, p < .001; social functioning, p = .014; role-emotional, p = .006; mental health, p = .003). Conclusions. This study further supports that food insecurity is related to poorer health among older adults. Further research in a larger sample of older adults participating in CSFP is warranted, as are other studies of those participating in food assistance programs.