Researchers establish link between food insecurity and cardiovascular death rate

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 11, 2020 Published on November 11, 2020

A whopping 13.7 million (10.5 per cent) of households in the United States face food insecurity at some point in time in 2019, as per the preliminary research conducted by the researchers at Penn Medicine.

Researchers of the study believe that this trend will likely increase manifold in 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Their study suggested that increasing food insecurity, especially in the US counties are independently associated with an increase in cardiovascular death rates among adults between the ages of 20 and 64.

The study aimed to prove the link between food insecurity and increased risk of cardiovascular death. The findings were published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Economic distress

Sameed Khatana, MD, MPH, senior author of the study and instructor of Cardiovascular Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania said: “This research gives us a better understanding of the connection between economic distress and cardiovascular disease.”

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

For the study, the authors examined data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Map the Meal Gap study. They then analysed county-level cardiovascular death rates and food insecurity rates from 2011 to 2017, among adults age 20 to 64, and those 65 years and older.

The study further stated that the overall rates of food insecurity for the US dipped between 2011 and 2017. However, the counties that had the most increase in food insecurity levels had cardiovascular death rates that increased from 82 to 87 per 100,000 individuals.

Moreover, for every 1 per cent increase in food insecurity, there was a similar increase in cardiovascular mortality among non-elderly adults (0.83 percent).

“There has been a growing disparity when it comes to food insecurity, and this data demonstrates that parts of the country are being left behind. Unfortunately, this may only get worse as the country grapples with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Khatana said.

“However, interventions that improve a community’s economic well-being could potentially lead to improved community cardiovascular health,” he concluded.

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Published on November 11, 2020
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