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Food Insecurity Tied to Higher Cardiovascular Mortality

Findings independent of changes in demographic, economic, and health care access

TUESDAY, Nov. 17, 2020 (HealthDay News) — An increase in food insecurity in U.S. counties was associated with an increase in cardiovascular mortality rates for nonelderly adults between 2011 and 2017, according to a research letter published online Nov. 9 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Stephen Y. Wang, M.D., from Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, and colleagues analyzed data from the National Center for Health Statistics to identify county-level, annual, age-adjusted (to the 2000 U.S. census) cardiovascular mortality rates for nonelderly U.S. adults (20 to 64 years old) from 2011 to 2017. The Map the Meal Gap project was used to determine annual county-level food insecurity rates.

Among 3,142 counties across the United States, the researchers found that mean county-level food insecurity rates decreased from 14.7 to 13.3 percent during the study period. There were no significant changes noted in age-adjusted cardiovascular mortality rates in counties in the lowest quartile for mean annual percent change in food insecurity, but mortality rates increased significantly in the other three quartiles. A 1-percentage point increase in food insecurity was independently associated with a 0.83 percent increase in age-adjusted cardiovascular mortality rates for nonelderly adults. When adjusting for baseline food insecurity quartiles, this association remained significant only in the third and fourth quartiles.

“What’s going on outside the clinic has significant impact on patients’ health,” a coauthor said in a statement. “There are many factors beyond the medications we may be prescribing that can influence their well-being, food insecurity being one of them.”

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