Food Insecurity and Health Care Utilization Among Older Adults in the United States

J Nutr Gerontol Geriatr. 2016 Jul-Sep;35(3):177-92. doi: 10.1080/21551197.2016.1200334.


This study examined the relationships between food insecurity and utilization of four health services among older Americans: office visits, inpatient hospital nights, emergency department visits, and home health care. Nationally representative data from the 2011 and 2012 National Health Interview Survey were used (N = 13,589). Nearly 83.0% of the sample had two or more office visits, 17.0% reported at least one hospital night, 23.0% had at least one emergency room visit, and 8.1% used home health care during the past 12 months. Adjusting for confounders, food-insecure older adults had higher odds of using more office visits, inpatient hospital nights, and emergency department visits than food-secure older adults, but similar odds of home health care utilization. The findings of this study suggest that programs and policies aimed at reducing food insecurity among older adults may have a potential to reduce utilization of health care services.

Keywords: Food insecurity; National Health Interview Survey; health care utilization; older adults.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Food Supply*
  • Health Services for the Aged / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • House Calls / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States