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The household food insecurity gradient and potential reductions in adverse population mental health outcomes in Canadian adults

TitleThe household food insecurity gradient and potential reductions in adverse population mental health outcomes in Canadian adults
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsJessiman-Perreault, G., and McIntyre L.
JournalSocial Science and Medicine - Population Health
Volume3
Pages464 - 472
Keywordscanadian adults, chronic stress, food insecurity, mental health
Abstract

Purpose Household food insecurity is related to poor mental health. This study examines whether the level of household food insecurity is associated with a gradient in the risk of reporting six adverse mental health outcomes. This study further quantifies the mental health impact if severe food insecurity, the extreme of the risk continuum, were eliminated in Canada. Methods Using a pooled sample of the Canadian Community Health Survey (N = 302,683), we examined the relationship between level of food insecurity, in adults 18–64 years, and reporting six adverse mental health outcomes. We conducted a probit analysis adjusted for multi-variable models, to calculate the reduction in the odds of reporting mental health outcomes that might accrue from the elimination of severe food insecurity. Results Controlling for various demographic and socioeconomic covariates, a food insecurity gradient was found in six mental health outcomes. We calculated that a decrease between 8.1% and 16.0% in the reporting of these mental health outcomes would accrue if those who are currently severely food insecure became food secure, after controlling for covariates. Conclusion Household food insecurity has a pervasive graded negative effect on a variety of mental health outcomes, in which significantly higher levels of food insecurity are associated with a higher risk of adverse mental health outcomes. Reduction of food insecurity, particularly at the severe level, is a public health concern and a modifiable structural determinant of health worthy of macro-level policy intervention.

URLhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352827316301410
DOI10.1016/j.ssmph.2017.05.013
Document URLhttps://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/acr.22796