25% rise in food insufficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic linked to increased mental health issues, according to a new study
A week prior to completing the study survey, which included 63,674 participants, 65% of Americans reported anxiety symptoms and 52% reported depressive symptoms.
During that week, 89% of food-insufficient Americans reported anxiety symptoms compared to 63% of food-sufficient Americans. Similarly, 83% of food-insufficient Americans reported depressive symptoms, compared to 49%.
Free groceries or meals alleviated some of the mental health burden of food insufficiency.
Black and Latino Americans
Food insufficiency occurs when families do not have enough food to eat. Amongst the participants, Black and Latino Americans had over twice the risk of food insufficiency compared to White Americans.
Jason Nagata, MD, MSc, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco and lead author on the study said: “People of colour are disproportionately affected by both food insufficiency and COVID-19. Many of these individuals have experienced job loss and higher rates of poverty during the pandemic.
“Policymakers should expand benefits and eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other programs to address both food insecurity and mental health,” said Kyle Ganson, PhD, MSW, assistant professor at the University of Toronto, a co-author of the study.
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