Not Having Enough to Eat Leads to Poor Glycemic Control

People who worry about having enough food to eat, which is called food insecurity, are more likely to have worse glycemic control than people with sufficient access to food, according to a new study from the American Diabetes Association.

Research published in 2012 found that diabetes risk was approximately 2.5 percent higher in households with food insecurity - suggesting that not only is diabetes directly linked to socioeconmic factors, but that diabetes management is also intricately linked to income and availability of resources.

In the new study, researchers analyzed how food insecurity impacts glycemic control in patients who reported they couldn't afford to buy healthy foods. The team measured factors like having enough to eat in the last 30 days, what percentage of vegetables were eaten at each meal and the differences in A1C levels between food-secure and food-insecure patients.

A nutrient density problem

While both groups consumed comparable calories, there was a marked difference in nutrient density consumption between food-secure and non-secure individuals.

"We found that those patients who were food insecure had higher A1C levels and ate fewer vegetables," said Britt Rotberg, Assistant Director of the Emory Diabetes Education Training Academy, Emory Latino Diabetes Education Program at the Emory School of Medicine.

Those who were food insecure had average A1C levels of 9.9 percent, while food-secure individuals had average A1C levels of 7.6 percent.

People with food insecurity were also less likely to consume non-starchy vegetables with meals.

"These findings underscore the importance of individualized diabetes management, and the need to take into account not only patients' socioeconomic status, but food availability, when discussing diabetes self-management," Rotberg said. "We should find new ways to help our food insecure patients obtain nutritionally adequate foods."

Source: American Diabetes Association

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