(NAPS)—Hunger and food insecurity are significant health issues for older Americans.
That’s an issue underscored by two recent studies commissioned by AARP Foundation, according to the Foundation’s president, Lisa Marsh Ryerson.
Among the key findings:
- Hunger and food insecurity are health issues for older Americans. Roughly one in 10 older adults struggles to put food on the table every day. Plus, data shows that food insecurity and poor health go hand in hand. Chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and depression are more prevalent among the food insecure.
Research also indicates this relationship between hunger and health can easily become a vicious cycle, as low-income seniors have to spend more on their health care and thus have even fewer financial resources to spend on food.
- The “youngest old” are the worst off. The statistics show that food insecurity is highest among those aged 50 to 59, and indeed that the numbers are even higher for those in their 40s.
Ryerson believes this demonstrates that there is something systemically wrong with how nutritious food reaches those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum, and that Band-Aid approaches—as necessary as they are to meet immediate needs—are not solving the root of these problems. With the size of the 50+ population growing every year, it’s a problem that needs attention right away.
- Many older adults don’t make good nutrition choices. The study from AARP Foundation reveals that many older Americans may misunderstand dietary recommendations and find food labeling a mystery.
In addition, it’s common for older adults to not have access to nutritious food, especially if they live in urban areas, where they sometimes have to shop for food at places like convenience marts and drugstores.
Ryerson says the Foundation is convinced its new strategy of working with those at each step throughout the food supply chain will reap major rewards in improving the nutritional quality of food available to the food insecure and ultimately enable these individuals to live happier, healthier lives. To learn more or to obtain a copy of the study, visit www.aarpfoundation.org.
New studies suggest food insecurity among older adults contributes to this nation’s staggering health care costs.