“In 2011, 8.35 percent of Americans over age 60 faced the threat of hunger – that translates to 4.8 million people,” said Craig Gundersen, a professor at the University of Illinois.
The study that used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) revealed that those elderly who are dealing with hunger are also facing negative health and nutrition consequences.
Hand-in-hand with hunger goes a lower intake of calories, vitamins, and other nutrients, which puts them at risk for a wide variety of ailments, said the study.
“Seniors who are food insecure reported higher incidence of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attack, gum disease, and a host of other health problems than adults their age who are food secure,” Gundersen said.
They have worse general health outcomes, more daily activity limitations, and are more likely to suffer from depression, Gundersen added.
The presence of grandchildren at home also impacts food insecurity of the the elderly, said the study.
“Food insecurity rates among seniors were almost three times as high if grandchildren were present in the home in comparison to homes without grandchildren present,” Gundersen said.