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News Article

Food security worsened for older US adults 2007-2016

Food insecure people also had lower diet quality

A study of food security in the elderly in the USA concludes that in 2016 the percent who were food insecure had more than doubled compared with 2007. 12.4% of those surveyed were food insecure. Food insecurity was associated with lower income levels and less good scores on healthy eating indices. The study was published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The recession at the end of 2007 increased overall household levels of food insecurity in the USA from around 10% to over 14% according to figures from the Economic Research Service (ERS). Since then levels have been declining slowly. According to the ERS figures, food insecurity is highest in households with single parents and in non-White groups and in low income groups. The goal of the US government is to reduce food insecurity to 6% of households by 2030.

This study of 5,097 over 60’s with incomes not more than 3 times the federal poverty level, used data from the NHANES surveys collected between 2007 and 2016. The results showed that food insecurity increased from 5.5% to 12.4% over the period of study. Comparing with the above figures for the whole country, this group of older people suffered bigger increases in food insecurity than the national average during the recession. The study showed that being food insecure impacted older adults’ ability to eat a healthy diet. Food insecure people scored significantly lower on three indices of healthy eating- the Healthy Eating Index, the Alternative Healthy Eating Index and the Mediterranean Diet Index.

 "Our results provide further evidence that food insecurity is a serious health concern among older adults. Continued investment in public health programs and policies are needed to simultaneously improve food security and nutritional intake for older Americans, all of which has become more urgent during the current COVID-19 pandemic," said co-author Cindy Leung, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Find out more


 (elderly or geriatric) and "food security" and USA



 Food Insecurity Among Older Adults: 10‐Year National Trends and Associations with Diet Quality, by Cindy W. Leung and Julia A. Wolfson. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2021.


Article details

  • Author(s)
  • I. Hoskins
  • Date
  • 07 January 2021
  • Source
  • Journal of the American Geriatrics Society/Wiley
  • Subject(s)
  • Nutrition & health