New Study Reveals Increased Health Problems For Seniors At Risk Of Hunger

Health and Fitness

January 1, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, VA The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH) today released a study entitled The Health Consequences of Senior Hunger in the United States: Evidence from the 1999-2010 NHANES. Commissioned by NFESH and conducted by Dr. James P. Ziliak of the University of Kentucky and Dr. Craig Gundersen of the University of Illinois, this original research examines the correlation between food insecurity and negative health consequences among individuals age 60 and older in the United States.

The study examines how trends in health and nutrition outcomes among food secure and food insecure seniors have changed over the past decade. The findings reveal that food insecure seniors "were at higher risk of experiencing negative nutrition and health consequences than food secure seniors." Specifically, seniors at risk of hunger were:

  • 50 percent more likely to be diabetic
  • Twice as likely to report fair or poor general health
  • Three times more likely to suffer from depression
  • 30 percent more likely to report at least one activities of daily living (ADL) limitation
  • 14 percent more likely to have high blood pressure
  • Nearly 60 percent more likely to have congestive heart failure or experienced a heart attack
  • Twice as likely to report having gum disease or have asthma

"Simply put, these research findings prove that if you are older, hunger makes you sick," said NFESH Founder, President and CEO Enid Borden.  "Knowing that, and knowing that the number of seniors at risk of hunger grows each year, we can be certain that more and more seniors are going to suffer serious negative health consequences unless we as a nation take the hunger-health connection seriously. Once we do, I am certain we can improve lives."

This new report builds upon Ziliak and Gunderson's previous reports prepared for NFESH on food insecurity among seniors, including The State of Senior Hunger in America 2011: An Annual Report (2012)and The Causes, Consequences, and Future of Senior Hunger in America (2008).

View the Executive Summary