Increasing rates of food insecurity are independently associated with an increase in cardiovascular death rates among adults between the ages of 20 and 64, say researchers.
According to the study, about 10 per cent of adults in the US are considered food insecure, meaning they lack immediate access to fresh, healthy and affordable food.
In addition, the stress from not knowing where their next meal will come from or regularly consuming cheap, processed foods may have an adverse impact on cardiovascular health.
“This research shows food insecurity, which is a particular type of economic distress, is associated with cardiovascular disease,” study author Sameed Khatana from University of Pennsylvania in the US.
“It illustrates that cardiovascular health is tied to many things,” Khatana added.
Researchers accessed county-level data on cardiovascular death rates and food insecurity rates that occurred from 2011 to 2017, among adults age 20 to 64, and those 65 years old and older.
In their analysis, researchers examined cardiovascular mortality trends in the US by average annual percent change in food insecurity.
They assessed the relationship between changes in food insecurity and cardiovascular death rates, after adjusting for variables including changes in demographics, employment, poverty, income, health insurance and other factors already known to affect cardiovascular risk.
Overall, food insecurity rates for the entire country declined significantly (from 14.7 per cent to 13.3 per cent) between 2011 and 2017.
The level in which food insecurity changes was a significant predictor of death for people between the ages of 20 and 64.
The findings showed that cardiovascular death rates remained much higher among the elderly than younger people.
According to the researchers, for every one per cent increase in food insecurity, there was a similar increase in cardiovascular mortality among non-elderly adults.
The study is scheduled to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 202, virtually from November 13-17.