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New research investigating trends in food insecurity for those with diagnosed diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes, and prediabetes using US data from 2005 to 2014 found people with pre diabetes and undiagnosed diabetes are more likely to be food insecure.

Food insecurity is defined as either a lack of availability or a lack of ability to acquire healthy food. Food security impacts an individual’s ability to manage or delay disease, like type 2 diabetes.

Researchers emphasize that food insecurity in the overall population has decreased since 2011, but in those diagnosed with cardiometabolic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, it has continued to climb. Ironically, little research on food insecurity has been conducted in populations with undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) survey data from 2005 to 2014 (27, 218 adults 20 and over) was analysed. Participant responses to the Food Security Survey Module questions assessed purchasing power for food,  skipping meals due to cost, or eating less because of cost.  Diabetes, pre diabetes or at risk for diabetes stratification was based on responses to diabetes-related questions and HbA1c.

Researchers found, compared to individuals without diabetes, those with prediabetes were 39% more likely to be food insecure, those with diagnosed diabetes were 58% more likely to be food insecure, and those with undiagnosed diabetes (HbA1c of ≥ 6.5) were 81% more likely to be food insecure.

Findings suggest increasing diabetes screening in food insecure populations is needed. Author Dr. Leonard E. Egede of the Medical College of Wisconsin (USA) believes the time is now for healthcare professionals need to take note. “Food insecurity increased from 9.7% in 2005–2006 to 15.2% in 2013–2014 (p < 0.001). Prevalence of food insecurity increased more dramatically for those with undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes than other groups. Screening individuals with prediabetes for food insecurity may help inform medical recommendations to help reverse or slow progression to diabetes,” he says.

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