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More Americans Experiencing Food Insecurity

The number of food-insecure people is on the rise.

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Food insecurity among white and Black Americans

The plethora of food-related shows these days may have you believing food is abundant for everyone in the U.S., but the number of Americans experiencing food insecurity jumped more than twofold in recent years, increasing from 8.7% during 1999–2000 to 18.2% in 2015–2016, according to a study in JAMA Network Open.

The prevalence of food insecurity among Black Americans rose from 12% to over 29% during the period, while the rate increased from 6% to 13% for white Americans. Rates of obesity were particularly high among those who struggled to access enough healthy food. Findings were based on data from the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey involving more than 46,000 U.S. adults.

Concerningly, a separate investigation in Health Promotion Practice found that adults dealing with food insecurity had a 58% higher risk of premature death than those who were not food insecure, with cardiovascular disease being a big player in early death.

Food insecurity likely means going without nutritious options like fresh vegetables, which can help prevent obesity and other diseases. Since the pandemic is fueling even more food insecurity (more unemployment, fewer in-school meals), new policies are needed to ensure that more Americans can outfit their kitchens with enough healthy provisions.

See also: The Need for Securing Better Nutrition

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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