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Mental Illness, Not Obesity Status, is Associated with Food Insecurity Among the Elderly in the Health and Retirement Study.

Brostow DP, Gunzburger E, Abbate LM, Brenner LA, Thomas KS. Mental Illness, Not Obesity Status, is Associated with Food Insecurity Among the Elderly in the Health and Retirement Study. Journal of nutrition in gerontology and geriatrics. 2019 Apr 1; 38(2):149-172.

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OBJECTIVES: Food insecurity, limited or uncertain access to adequate nutrition, is an increasingly recognized determinant of health outcomes and is often associated with having obesity. It is unclear, however, if this association persists in elderly populations. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 2868 participants' aged 65+ years from the Health and Retirement Study. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess associations between food insecurity and body mass index, demographic characteristics, psychiatric history, and medical history. RESULTS: Participants with overweight/obesity had a higher prevalence of food insecurity than leaner counterparts, however, weight status was not a significant predictor of food insecurity after multivariate adjustment. Instead, mental illness, current smoking status, and non-White race were all independently associated with food insecurity. DISCUSSION: Beyond financial status, health care providers are encouraged to use these characteristics to identify elderly patients that may be at risk of food insecurity.

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