Food insecurity, food environments, and disparities in diet quality and obesity in a nationally representative sample of community-dwelling older Americans

Yeon Jin Choi, Eileen M. Crimmins, Jennifer A. Ailshire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Food insecurity, reflecting a household's low ability to purchase healthy food, is a public health concern that is associated with poor diet and obesity. Poor food environments, characterized as a neighborhood with low access to healthy, affordable food, may amplify the negative impact of food insecurity on diet and obesity. This study aims to investigate whether food insecurity and food environments are jointly associated with an increased risk of poor diet quality and obesity. We used data from a nationally representative sample of community-dwelling older adults in the Health and Retirement Study Health Care and Nutrition Survey and the National Neighborhood Data Archive to investigate the role of household and neighborhood characteristics on diet and obesity. Weighted regression models were estimated to examine the relationship between food insecurity and food environments as well as their interaction with diet quality and obesity. Food insecure respondents had lower Healthy Eating Index scores and were more likely to be obese than food secure respondents. Living in a poor food environment was associated with lower Healthy Eating Index scores, but not with obesity. We did not find any interaction between food insecurity and food environment in determining either healthy eating or obesity. Reducing food insecurity and increasing access to healthy food environments may encourage healthier eating among older adults, while alleviating food-related hardship may also reduce their obesity risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101912
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
Volume29
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (T32-AG000037 and P30 AG017265). This funding source had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022

Keywords

  • Diet quality
  • Food access
  • Healthy Eating Index
  • Obesity risk
  • Older adults
  • Social and environmental factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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