Poster Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition

Location: Auditorium

Poster Board Number: 137

P06-116 - Food insecurity associated with lower cognitive functioning in low-income elderly US adults

Monday, Jun 11
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Objective: Food insecurity adversely affects the health of elderly adults. The cognitive decline of elderly adults is a public health concern. This study examines the associations between food insecurity and cognitive function in a national sample of elderly adults in the United States.

Methods: Data from the 2011-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were used to identify 845 elderly adults (≥60 years) with incomes <300% of the federal poverty level. Food security status was measured using the 10-item Adult Food Security Survey Module (FSSM). Cognitive function was measured using the Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST), which measures attention and working memory; the Animal Fluency Test (AFT), which assesses verbal fluency; and the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease (CERAD) Word Learning Subtest, which assesses immediate and delayed learning. Poisson regression examined associations between food insecurity and DSST scores, as well as AFT scores. Linear regression examined association between food insecurity and CERAD scores. In all cases, we adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics and smoking status.

Results: Compared to food-secure adults, food-insecure adults scored significantly lower on the DSST (β=0.87, 95% CI 0.81, 0.92), after multivariable adjustment. Similarly, food-insecure adults also scored lower on CERAD trials (β=-0.34, 95% CI: -0.72, 0.04,), compared to food-secure adults. However, the association between food insecurity and CERAD score was marginally significant (P=0.068). Food insecurity was not associated with lower AFT scores (β=0.96, 95% CI 0.88, 1.05).

Conclusions: Our results show food-insecure adults have lower performance on cognitive functioning tasks measuring working memory and immediate and delayed learning, compared to food-secure adults. Whether these associations are mediated by certain health behaviors or a higher burden of chronic disease deserve further investigation.

Funding Source: Dr. Leung was supported by grant 4R00 HD084758 from the National Institutes of Health

CoAuthors: Cindy Leung, ScD, MPH – University of Michigan School of Public Health

Eduardo T. Portela-Parra

College of Marin
San Anselmo, California