Science

Covid-19: Food insufficiency aggravates depression, anxiety amidst pandemic

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on January 12, 2021 Published on January 12, 2021

‘Overall, 65 per cent of Americans reported anxiety symptoms and 52 per cent reported depressive symptoms’

Deterioration in mental health due to pandemic has caused a 25 per cent rise in food insufficiency, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The researchers looked at the nationally representative sample of 63,674 adults in the United States. They found that Black and Latin Americans faced twice the risk of food insufficiency compared to white Americans.

Lead author Jason Nagata, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco 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.

Overall, 65 per cent of Americans reported anxiety symptoms and 52 per cent reported depressive symptoms in the week prior to completing the survey.

Those who did not have enough to eat during that week reported worse mental health, with 89 per cent of those facing food shortage reporting the symptoms compared with 63 per cent with sufficient food.

Similarly, 83 per cent of those facing food-insufficiency, compared to 49 per cent of those with adequate food, reported depressive symptoms.

“Hunger, exhaustion, and worrying about not getting enough food to eat may worsen depression and anxiety symptoms,” Nagata added.

Researchers found that receipt of free groceries or meals mitigated some of the mental health burdens of food insufficiency.

Also read: The post-Covid world is set for a surge in inequality

“Policy-makers 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, assistant professor at the University of Toronto, a co-author of the study.

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Published on January 12, 2021
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