Hungry people are more likely to develop serious health issues—particularly cardiovascular disease—that raises the chances of an early death, according to first-of-its-kind study involving a Ball State University researcher.
Ball State health epidemiologist Jagdish Khubchandani was part of a team of researchers who identified the correlation in a 10-year study of about 25,000 people. It was the first long term study of food insecurity in the U.S.
Of those 25,000 people, nearly one-fifth (17.6) had reported experiencing food insecurity, and after a decade about 11 percent of those identifying as food-insecure had died.
The study also found that death from heart disease and cardiovascular mortality was 75 percent higher in food-insecure people, even after controlling and adjusting for multiple demographic and health risk factors.
Jagdish Khubchandani, professor of health science
“A major finding is that food insecurity had an independent effect on cardiovascular mortality even after controlling for known pre-existing cardiovascular conditions like congestive heart failure, stroke, angina, coronary heart disease, or myocardial infarction,” Khubchandani said. “Therefore, food insecurity can be considered a fundamental risk factor for CVD and should be added as a guideline for the assessment of cardiovascular risk.”
The finding is especially important as the American Heart Association is working to create innovative approaches to improve diet-related health and create a sustainable food system, said Khubchandani, who teaches health science in Ball State’s College of Health.
The team published its research in “Food Insecurity and Mortality in American Adults: Results From the NHANES-Linked Mortality Study” in the online SAGE Journals. The co-authors are Srikanta Banerjee and Tim Radak, faculty at Walden University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Researchers analyzed data on adults taken from the 1999–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey along with mortality data obtained through 2015.
The study also found that food-insecure people were more likely to be younger, minorities, poorer, less educated, obese, smokers, and have diabetes compared to food-secure counterparts.
The mortality rate among the food insecure compared with the food secure, with adjustment for age and gender only, was 1.58 times or 58 percent higher.
On further adjustment for race, age, gender, and other demographic factors, death rate was 1.46 times or 46 percent higher in food insecure compared to those who did not report food insecurity, the study found.