Food Insecurity and Chronic Illness: A Compounded Problem

Photo credit: northcharleston/flickr

The overlap between our food system and our health care system is nuanced, fraught with corporate conglomerate interests, and nearly impossible to fully comprehend. Yet, the interaction between the two is all too simple: the more access people have to healthy food and medicine, the fewer complications they are likely to have. A recent report in the American Journal of Medicine found that about ⅓ of people who have chronic illness also lack the means to get healthy food and/or the medicine that they need to manage their conditions. Most of the problem lies in access to healthy food.

Erin N. Marcus is a general internist and writer and has written a story for The Atlantic about the problems the study found, as well as some hopeful initiatives helping to alleviate the problems of food insecurity and health care.

Of the 10,000 adults who reported that they had a chronic disease such as diabetes, asthma, arthritis, high blood pressure, stroke, a mental health problem, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, nearly one in five said they said they had problems affording food during the past 30 days, a condition called “food insecurity.” Nearly one in four said they had skipped medication dosages because of cost. More than one in ten said they had problems paying for both food and medication.”

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