Poster Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition

Location: Auditorium

Poster Board Number: 118

P06-097 - Food insecurity, social support and mental health status in 39 Sub-Saharan African countries in 2014-2016

Monday, Jun 11
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Objectives: Both food insecurity (FI) and social support (SS) may play important roles by influencing anxiety and stress. The study aims to determine the association of FI, SS and mental health in 39 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, where regional FI is the highest and mental health is an emerging concern.

Nationally representative data in adults is drawn from the Gallup World Poll between 2014- 2016. FI was assessed using the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) and was categorized into food secure, mild, moderate, and severe FI. SS was measured by four dichotomous indicators regarding perceived SS (belief that one can count on others), foreign perceived SS (belief that one can count on others in another country), received SS (receipt of money or goods from others) and given SS (provision of money or goods to others). Negative and Positive Experiences Indices (NEI and PEI) were composed of recent reported mental status (ranging from 0-100; higher score indicated worse and better mental health for NEI and PEI, respectively). Multilevel mixed-effect linear models were applied to examine the association between FI, SS and their interaction with the NEI and PEI given random effect at country level. In the full model, demographic and socioeconomic indicators were adjusted.

There were 102,235 subjects in the analytic sample. The prevalence of any FI was 80% and almost half was severe FI (39%). The prevalence of reported SS was 70%, 37%, 35% and 30% for perceived, foreign perceived, received and given SS, respectively. In the pooled analysis using the full model, compared to the food secure group, FI was dose-responsively associated with increased NEI (mild: ~6; moderate: ~12; severe: ~20 higher score) and decreased PEI (mild: ~4; moderate: 7; severe: ~12 lower score). Perceived SS was associated with lower NEI [-3.0 (-4.3, -1.6)] and higher PEI [7.2 (5.8, 8.6)]. Among individuals with severe FI, people with any types of SS had a significantly 2-5 points lower NEI and 1-3 points higher PEI as compared to people without SS.

Both food insecurity and social support predict mental health status in Sub-Saharan Africa. This study provides evidence supporting the interactive impact of food security and social support on improving mental status among people who are most affected by food insecurity.

Funding Source: No funding support

CoAuthors: Meghan Miller – McGill University School of Human Nutrition; Diane Mitchell – The Pennsylvania State University; Kristen Cox – The Pennsylvania State University

Muzi Na

Assistant Professor
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania