Associations between Self-reported Food Insecurity and Safety and Mental Health Status in a Nationally Representative Sample of Young People in Kenya Open Access

Fink, Lauren (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/hh63sw31x?locale=en
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Abstract

Background: Studies on food insecurity in low-income countries primarily focus on nutritional outcomes, leaving a gap regarding non-nutritional outcomes such as mental health. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between food insecurity and mental health outcomes in Kenya, where a quarter of the population is food insecure.

Methods: Using data from a nationally representative sample of young people (ages 13-24), logistic regression models were employed to examine the association between food insecurity, water insecurity, and safety and mental health outcomes including anxiety, depression, and suicidality. Estimates were adjusted for several potential confounders including socio-economic status.

Results: Fewer than half of study participants lived in a household with consistent access to food, and half reported experiencing feelings of anxiety and/or depression at least some of the time. One in five study participants reported fair or poor health in general. A statistically significant relationship was observed between food insecurity and anxiety (adjusted OR 1.37 [95% CI: 1.07, 1.75]) and depression (aOR 1.38 [95% CI: 1.06, 1.81]) among females, but not among males. Among males, feeling unsafe in the community was significantly associated with depression (aOR 1.76 [95% CI: 1.13, 2.73]) and anxiety (aOR 1.98 [95% CI: 1.22, 3.21]), and predicted a 126% increased likelihood of fair or poor perceived health. Among females, feeling unsafe in the community was associated with depression (aOR: 1.25 [95% CI: 1.03, 1.73]) and anxiety (aOR 1.61 [95%CI (1.06, 2.42]), and associated with a 2-fold increased likelihood of suicidality and a 130% increased likelihood of self-reported fair or poor health.

Discussion: This study provides evidence to support the hypothesis that mental health outcomes are among the non-nutritional consequences of food insecurity. Similarly, the high prevalence of feelings of insecurity around personal safety among young people in Kenya has implications beyond the potential for injury. Our results suggest that simply feeling unsafe in one's community can have a dramatic impact on mental health as well as perceptions of health in general.

Table of Contents

Background…………………………………………………………….....8

Methods………………………………………………………………......13

Sampling…….....………………………………………………….........13

Measurement ….....……..…….....………………………................14

Statistical Analysis......……………………………………….…........15

Results………………………………………………………………….....16

Discussion………………………………………………………………...18

Tables and Figures……………………………………………………...22

Bibliography……………………………………………………………...28

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