Inadequate Food During COVID-19 Worsens Mental Health

by Karishma Abhishek on Jan 14 2021 12:40 PM

Inadequate Food During COVID-19 Worsens Mental Health
Global COVID-19 pandemic has not only devastated the immunity of people but also caused a 25% increase in food insufficiency as per a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Food insufficiency is the most extreme form of food insecurity, where families do not have enough food to eat. Among the nationally representative sample of 63,674 adults in the US, Black and Latino Americans had over twice the risk of food insufficiency compared to White Americans.

Food insufficiency and mental health

"People of color 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", says Jason Nagata, MD, MSc, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco and lead author on the study.

65% of Americans reported anxiety symptoms and 52% reported depressive symptoms in the survey. Insufficient food intake had worse effect on mental health, with 89% of food-insufficient Americans reporting anxiety symptoms compared to 63% of food-sufficient Americans.

Similarly, 83% of food-insufficient Americans, compared to 49% of food-sufficient, Americans reported depressive symptoms.

Worrying about not getting enough food to eat with hunger itself worsens the depression and anxiety symptoms.

"Policymakers should expand benefits and eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other programs to address both food insecurity and mental health," says Kyle Ganson, PhD, MSW, assistant professor at the University of Toronto, a co-author of the study.