Exhaustion of food budgets at month's end and hospital admissions for hypoglycemia

Health Aff (Millwood). 2014 Jan;33(1):116-23. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2013.0096.


One in seven US households cannot reliably afford food. Food budgets are more frequently exhausted at the end of a month than at other points in time. We postulated that this monthly pattern influenced health outcomes, such as risk for hypoglycemia among people with diabetes. Using administrative data on inpatient admissions in California for 2000-08, we found that admissions for hypoglycemia were more common in the low-income than the high-income population (270 versus 200 admissions per 100,000). Risk for hypoglycemia admission increased 27 percent in the last week of the month compared to the first week in the low-income population, but we observed no similar temporal variation in the high-income population. These findings suggest that exhaustion of food budgets might be an important driver of health inequities. Policy solutions to improve stable access to nutrition in low-income populations and raise awareness of the health risks of food insecurity might be warranted.

Keywords: Determinants Of Health; Disparities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Budgets / statistics & numerical data*
  • California
  • Food Deprivation
  • Food Supply / economics*
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / economics*
  • Hypoglycemia / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Admission / economics*
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Periodicity*
  • Poverty / economics
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Welfare / economics
  • Social Welfare / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult