Deadly Insecure

Food-insecure families pose health risks for children with diabetes

(RxWiki News) Families without access to safe, varied and nutritional food are considered food-insecure, which poses a risk for children with diabetes in these families.

"Families who are hungry, who use food banks or food stamps, or those who worry about affording food are considered food insecure," said Dr. Elizabeth Cummings, author of the study from Dalhousie University, the IWK Health Centre and Mount Saint Vincent University.  

Researchers interviewed 183 Canadian families with at least one child with diabetes over a 16-month period. Among other factors, they studied food demographic information and strategies used to mitigate the financial burden of the children's diabetes and found that 22 percent of the families were food insecure. Children from food-insecure families had poorer diabetes control and were 3.7 times more likely to require hospitalization for diabetes, according to Cummings.

A small number of families reported testing children's blood-sugar levels less often than recommended and/or using needles more than once to compensate for diabetes-related expense. Almost all families interviewed received some financial support for diabetes supplies.

Food insecurity resulting from the financial burden of diabetes management increases a child's risk of being hospitalized from diabetic complications.

"A review of financial support available to families is needed," Cummings said. "Improvement of support may result in fewer hospitalizations and thus lower health care costs."

Food security isn't a solely Canadian concern, however. A report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service states that 17.4 million households last year had difficulty providing enough food due to lack of resources. 

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December 6, 2010