Introduction: In 2003, 11.2% of U.S. households were at some time food insecure; in 1999, when this study was conducted, 10.1% of U.S. households were at some time food insecure. A previous study of individuals from an Appalachian Ohio county suggested that food insecurity is associated with poorer self-reported health status. This larger study assesses the relationship of food security to clinical measurements of several chronic health risks among residents in six rural Appalachian Ohio counties.
Methods: Data for this report are a subset of data gathered by surveys completed by 2580 individuals at community-based sites and by on-site, limited clinical health assessments conducted with a subsample of 808 participants. Descriptive statistics were calculated to describe the sample. Student t tests were used to compare measured BMI, diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, random blood glucose, HbA1c levels, and hemoglobin between individuals from food-secure and food-insecure households.
Results: Our sample had about three times the level of food insecurity (with and without hunger) and more than seven times the level of food insecurity with hunger as the state population. Diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, random blood glucose, HbA1c, and hemoglobin did not differ by food security status (P > .05 for all); however, BMI was greater among individuals from food-insecure households, especially among women (t1272 = -2.0, P = .04), than among their food-secure counterparts. Obesity was greater among individuals from food-insecure households (48.1%) than among those from food-secure households (35.1%, P < .001).
Conclusion: This study examines possible causes and consequences of food insecurity as it relates to chronic disease development. Further investigation is needed in this community and in other Appalachian communities, as well as the United States, to determine relationships between food insecurity and chronic disease development and management.