AccScience Publishing / IJPS / Volume 9 / Issue 1 / DOI: 10.36922/ijps.435
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Association between food insecurity severity and major depression: Findings from the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Elizabeth Ann Luke1 Josh Wallace1 Roger Wong1*
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1 Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Norton College of Medicine, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York, USA
IJPS 2023, 9(1), 11–17;
Submitted: 1 January 2023 | Accepted: 13 April 2023 | Published: 27 April 2023
© 2023 by the Author(s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0) ( )

Food insecurity and mental health disorders have been increasing in all populations globally due to a variety of sociopolitical factors. Our study examines how the severity of food insecurity is associated with major depression in adults. We analyzed data from the 2017–2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which includes a nationally representative sample from households across the United States. Our sample was restricted to adults aged 18 and older, resulting in a sample size of 5856 participants. We used a multiple logistic regression with sampling weights applied to evaluate whether adult food insecurity severity is associated with major depression. Overall, higher severity of food insecurity was associated with increased odds of depression. Specifically, adults with very low food security had a 315% significantly increased odds of depression compared to those with full food security (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 4.15, 95% CI = 3.09 – 5.64, p < 0.05). Females also had a 60% significantly higher odds of depression (aOR = 1.60, 95% CI = 1.12 – 2.30, p < 0.05) and higher income levels were significantly associated with lower odds of depression (aOR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.83–0.97, p < 0.05). Our study supports prior research that food insecurity has adverse effects on mental health. These results can be used to inform public health research and interventions for food insecurity and mental health moving forward.

Food insecurity
Mental health
Public health

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Conflict of interest
The authors declare no competing of interests.
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International Journal of Population Studies, Electronic ISSN: 2424-8606 Print ISSN: 2424-8150, Published by AccScience Publishing