Socioeconomics, Food Insecurity and the US Latino Population
Conversations about healthy eating, diabetes care, and weight management should account for socioeconomics, food insecurity and food availability, particularly when addressing U.S. Latinos, who are overwhelmingly food insecure.
According to a new report released by The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hispanic households are some of the most food insecure in the United States. The new report offered detailed insights into hunger in the U.S., and it revealed that rates of food insecurity for Hispanic households were considerably higher than the national average.
Food-insecure households are defined as homes that have "difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources." In 2014, an estimated 22.4 percent of Hispanic household were considered food insecure, which is startlingly higher than the nationwide average of 14 percent, which decreased from 14.3 percent in 2013. Those with incomes below or near the poverty line, households headed by single parents, and households headed by African-Americans also experience high rates of food insecurity.
Nearly 20 percent (19.2 percent) of the nation's children lived in food-insecure households in 2014. Also, while child food insecurity decreased from 19.5 percent in 2013, almost a fifth of the nation's children still live in homes where parents struggle to consistently put food on the table. However, experts believe that the report "reflects a recovering and growing economy."
"Food security for households with children, and households overall, is the strongest it's been since before the Recession," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "Two million fewer people live in a state of food insecurity today compared to 2011."
Socioeconomic status and food availability should be considered when clinicians are discussing diabetes care with Latino patients, who have poor glycemic control, report having a poor diet, and fear that they won't have enough food to eat. Food availability and food management should also be addressed when discussing diabetes self-management.
In 2012, the journal Diabetes Spectrum found that diabetes risk was roughly 2.5 percent higher in households that report food insecurity. Prior research has addressed the sway that food insecurity and glycemic control have over non-white ethnic populations, but newer research focused more on the Latino population.
Food security status must be a part of conversations had about healthy eating in the Latino community. Many Latino households are unable to obtain recommended fruits, vegetables and foods because they have increasingly inadequate food budgets. Individuals who are food insecure had higher HbA1c levels, ate fewer vegetables, and obtained less nutritionally adequate foods. Dialogue about nutrition, diabetes education and weight management should always consider food security.
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