Longitudinal Associations Between Food Insecurity and Mental Health in Aging Adults in South Africa

Supa Pengpid, Karl Peltzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the longitudinal unidirectional and bidirectional associations between food insecurity and mental health among aging adults in South Africa. Methods: The analysis utilized data from the South African 7-year longitudinal Health and Ageing in Africa (HAALSI) study. Results: The proportion of food insecurity was 20.2% in 2015, 24.1% in 2019 and 18.4% in 2021/2022. Food insecurity was positively associated depressive symptoms, poor life satisfaction, poor sleep quality, PTSD, loneliness, impaired cognition, and current tobacco use. Compared to without food insecurity in all three study waves, having food insecurity in one wave and/or two to three waves was positively associated with incident depressive symptoms, incident poor life satisfaction, incident poor sleep quality, incident PTSD, incident loneliness, incident current tobacco use, and incident current heavy alcohol use. PTSD, impaired cognition, current tobacco use and current heavy alcohol use were positively associated with incident food insecurity. Conclusion: We found that food insecurity was unidirectionally associated with depressive symptoms, poor life satisfaction, poor sleep quality and loneliness, and bidirectionally associated with PTSD, impaired cognition, current tobacco use and current heavy alcohol use. Clinical Implications: Enhanced screening and management of food insecurity may reduce mental ill-health in South Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Gerontologist
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Food insecurity
  • health behavior
  • longitudinal study
  • mental health
  • South Africa

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