Tuesday, May 3, 2016
ADVANCING HEALTH THROUGH FOOD SECURITY
A recent report considers policy and economic assumptions regarding the short- and long-term impacts of food insecurity on healthcare costs. The report explores the relationship between food insecurity, healthcare costs, poverty, and health outcomes (including obesity), and opportunities for the public and private sectors to address food insecurity. The report finds that food insecurity is a risk factor for poor nutrition, many diet-related diseases, and poor health in the short-term and long-term. For example, food insecurity among children is associated with birth defects, low birth weight, anxiety, and learning difficulties. Despite current research limitations, the data that are available provide strong evidence that food insecurity is associated with significant healthcare costs. For example, one anti-hunger organization estimates the health-related costs of hunger and food insecurity at approximately $160 billion.
The report’s authors call for policymakers to sustain and strengthen support for food safety net programs like SNAP. They want the food industry to be more actively engaged in food security strategies, such as improving food affordability and addressing food insecurity. In addition, health organizations should develop protocols to identify and address food insecurity in clinical settings. Nonprofit organizations should continue to make connections between food insecurity and health, set priorities, and support federal nutrition program implementation. Finally, they call for more investments in food security research that examines the impacts of food insecurity on healthcare costs.
Source: Food Research Action Council, 4/16, Food Security & Health