High food insecurity increases the risk for diabetes, study flags
10 May 2022 --- Young adults who experienced food insecurity showed a higher risk of getting diabetes ten years later, a study conducted by Washington State University reveals. The relationship has previously been confirmed, but this study brings new findings of a connection over time.
“These findings are novel because they establish directionality. The risk of food insecurity was reported before diabetes prevalence increased. Additionally, they suggest that the period of young adulthood is worth further investigation,” Cassandra J. Nguyen, research assistant professor at Elson S Floyd College of Medicine, Washington State University, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Given that Native American, Pacific Islander, Black and Hispanic communities are among the most likely to experience food insecurity in the US, future research should focus on understanding and addressing these disparities,” adds Nguyen. “A combination of policy-level changes and community-based initiatives will be needed.”
“When we look at the data ten years later, we see this separation in the prevalence of diabetes. Those who experience food insecurity risk in young adulthood are more likely to have diabetes in middle adulthood,” Nguyen adds.
Several underlying issues
Young adults between the ages of 24 and 32 who reported food insecurity in the last year showed a higher risk of getting diabetes in the ages of 32 and 42 compared to those who reported no food insecurity.
However, the study did not identify a reason for this. Previous research has claimed that the relationship may be explained by lower nutritional values consumed in those households where food insecurity is present due to the cost and prioritizing quantity over quality.
Nguyen explains that eating according to the dietary guidelines tends to cost more money and is also less time-efficient. Additionally, there may be challenges, such as transportation costs, distances and access to nutritionally dense foods.
“People experiencing food insecurity can also get caught in a negative reinforcing cycle. When food insecurity is associated with a diet that contributes to disease risk, it creates additional health care expenses, stressing a household’s economic resources and deepening food insecurity,” Nguyen notes.
Food insecurity has previously been associated with various health issues, such as obesity and hypertension – high blood pressure over a long time. The study also supported the previously claimed fact that food insecurity is associated with an increased body mass index (BMI) and obesity in young adults.
How shall the food industry respond?
Nguyen highlights the importance of breaking these cycles by identifying the target group and providing resources for them to battle the food insecurity patterns.
However, this issue is on the rise as the war in Ukraine is causing food insecurity and rising inflation, defined as a global food price crisis.
It is expected that millions of people will not be able to afford nutritional food. Thus, it may drive and accelerate global food insecurity, which brings health issues later in life, according to the finding of this study.
Examples of solutions previously reported on by FoodIngredientsFirst are looking into different options of financing and trade relationships and highlighting the importance that the food trade continues to flow with a diversified range of products.
Edited by Beatrice Wihlander
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