Canadian Study Associates Food Insecurity with High Healthcare Costs


Published Date : Aug 11, 2015

A new Canadian study revealed that people with severe food insecurity incurs more healthcare costs than people who are food secure. 

People with food insecurity has inadequate access to food owing to low income, hence these people also suffer from poor physical and mental health condition, which is documented extensively for children and adults alike, said Valerie Tarasuk, the lead author, hailing from the University of Toronto. She also revealed that during the course of the study, he along with his team was able to quantify the healthcare expenditure associated with the food insecurity. The information was shared by Tarasuk over phone to Reuters Health. 

In developed countries such as the United States low income often leads to food security and poor access to healthcare facilities, which further complicates the analysis into the study of food insecurity, she said. However, in Canada low income group people enjoy equal access to food thoroughly publicly funded health system. The study was conducted on a demography of 67,033 adults based in Ontario between the age group of 18 years to 64 years. These people had also participated in the Canadian Community Health Survey conducted in 2005, 2008, and 2010. 

The participants were asked 18 questions based on their daily access to food. The answers and the data regarding the neighborhood income level were then linked to a database of the direct healthcare costs of the participants in the public funded healthcare system of Canada. This comprised emergency room visits, psychiatric and acute hospital stays, day surgeries, prescription drugs, home care, and physician visits. 

According to the results obtained from the survey, about 4 per cent of households were food insecure, but only marginally. Almost 5 per cent of the household were moderately insecure, while a meager 3 per cent of the household suffered from severe food insecurity.