Food Insecurity Becoming a National Health Problem That Physicians Can Help

An apple on a dry and cracked desert soil. Food insecurity, water supply shortage, hunger, drought, climate change and desertification concept.

The organization has published a new position paper outlining six recommendations to tackle food insecurity that leads to nutrition insecurity, which in turn affects diet-related conditions such as diabetes, obesity, coronary artery disease, certain types of cancer and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

In medicine, there is a growing understanding that social drivers of health affect the health of patients. That includes food insecurity, estimated to affect about 13.8 million households with 38.3 million people across the United States in 2019 and 2020.

“Food insecurity is one social factor that has direct and indirect effects on a person’s physical, cognitive, and mental health,” the paper said. “Despite its known effect on health, little sustainable progress has been made on reducing the incidence of food insecurity and improving accessible nutritional choices in the United States. Although a network of various federal, state, and community programs — both public and private — is in place to provide assistance for food-insecure individuals, food insecurity persists as a result of inadequate support levels, barriers to accessing programs, and rigid requirements that render many food-insecure individuals ineligible.”

“Strengthening Food and Nutrition Security to Promote Public Health in the United States: A Position Paper From the American College of Physicians,” was published June 28 in ACP’s Annals of Internal Medicine.