It’s Time to Talk About the Health Issues Caused by Food Insecurity
By CHAR ADAMS
Food insecurity has long been one of the United States’ most dire problems. Food insecurity is defined as little or no consistent access to quality, nutritious food needed to live a healthy, dignified life. Although this lack is a problem in and of itself, the impact of food insecurity on the health of those experiencing it is another facet of this urgent issue.
Professor So-Hyun Park, of Hunter College’s Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, explored the impact of food insecurity on metabolic syndrome in adult women in a new study published in the Public Health Nursing journal. Ph.D. student Shiela M. Strauss co-authored the study.
“Findings suggest that women in low and very low food security households are at increased risk for metabolic syndrome,” the authors concluded.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions (like high blood pressure, excess body fat, and more) that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The researchers utilized data from 4,249 female adults who provided information about their levels of food security, conditions related to metabolic syndrome, and other socio-demographic information.
“The results of this study show that there is an association between women being in one of three types of food insecure households rather than a food secure household and metabolic syndrome and/or one or more of its components,” the authors noted.
The authors wrote that although addressing risk of metabolic syndrome “worldwide needs a multilevel approach,” there are steps nurses can take to help.
“A basic approach at the individual level can start with nurses and advanced practice nurses addressing the effects of metabolic syndrome on health in female patients and urging lifestyle changes, including healthy diet and exercise,” they note.
“Nurses and advanced practice nurses can also play a critical role in managing food insecurity. They can screen for food insecurity at clinical encounters with female patients, and they can also provide resources and refer patients to federal food assistance programs if food insecurity is identified.”