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Lack of Access to Food Among Seniors Can Cause Severe Health Consequences

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new research project, entitled Spotlight on Senior Health: Adverse Health Outcomes of Food Insecure Older Americans, finds that food insecure seniors are more likely than those who are food secure to have lower nutrient intake and to be at a higher risk for chronic health conditions and depression.

The studyreleased jointly by Feeding America and the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH)—reveals that food insecurity is associated with a number of diseases and other negative health consequences.

When compared to food secure seniors, food insecure seniors are

  • 60 percent more likely to experience depression;
  • 53 percent more likely to report a heart attack;
  • 52 percent more likely to develop asthma; and
  • 40 percent more likely to report an experience of congestive heart failure.

Furthermore, the study reveals that despite the fact that low-income seniors are at higher risk of food insecurity, all food insecure seniors—regardless of income—experience lower nutrient intake and poorer health outcomes than food secure seniors. 

"With the increased rate of senior hunger we continue to see, these are incredibly troubling findings," said Feeding America CEO Bob Aiken. "Among our client households with seniors, about 30 percent have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medical care. That's a choice no one should have to make, and we're dedicated to helping provide nutrient-rich food to vulnerable older Americans who face hunger."

The research also shows that those aged 60 and older experience more severe health consequences as a result of food insecurity compared to younger adult cohorts, underscoring the critical nature in identifying solutions for seniors struggling with hunger.

"This research project emphasizes the need to implement innovative strategies in order to address the problem of senior hunger so that we can ultimately prevent negative health outcomes," said NFESH Founder, President and CEO Enid Borden.  "Hunger is a health issue and one that we must address."

Spotlight on Senior Health: Adverse Health Outcomes of Food Insecure Older Americans synthesizes research commissioned by NFESH and several other organizations interested in senior issues. It is based on analyses conducted by Dr. Craig Gundersen and Dr. James Ziliak of the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Together, these two datasets provide information about food insecurity and the health and nutrition implications for individuals aged 60 and older living in the United States. Gundersen and Ziliak conducted these analyses for their 2014 report entitled "Food Insecurity and Health among Senior Americans."

Spotlight on Senior Health: Adverse Health Outcomes of Food Insecure Older Americans was generously supported by HMS, the nation's leader in cost containment solutions for government and commercial healthcare payers, and is based on research that was commissioned and underwritten by NFESH.

The Executive Summary for Spotlight on Senior Health: Adverse Health Outcomes of Food Insecure Older Americans can be found here or at http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-studies/spotlight-senior-health.aspx

CONTACT: For additional information, please contact Angela De Paul at Feeding America at 312-641-5695 or adepaul@feedingamerica.org or Heather Cosson at NFESH at 571-312-2675 or heather@nfesh.org.

About the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger
The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH) identifies and assesses the challenge of senior hunger by funding senior-specific research, fostering local collaboration and engaging diverse partners. Through research, education and community partnerships the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger works to create the tangible and replicable solutions necessary to reverse the escalating number of seniors in the lifecycle of hunger.
For more information visit: www.nfesh.org.

About Feeding America
Feeding America is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 37 million people through 61,000 food pantries, community kitchens, and emergency shelters across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit http://www.feedingamerica.org/. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FeedingAmerica or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FeedingAmerica.

About HMS
HMS powers the healthcare system with integrity. The Irving, Texas-based company leads the nation in cost-containment services for commercial and government payers, including Medicaid and Medicare. Each year HMS saves clients more than $10 billion, allowing healthcare resources to reach more people. Learn more about HMS at www.hms.com.

SOURCE Feeding America

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