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In a study published last month in JAMA Cardiology, department-wide researchers from the University of Michigan found that the prevalence of food insecurity among people with cardiovascular disease increased to 38.1% in 2017 to 2018 from 16.3% in 1999 to 2000. The study also found cardiovascular disease and cardiometabolic disease, in addition to coronary artery disease, were common among those with food insecurity.

Their findings are based on a sample of more than 57,500 adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Of these, 7.9% suffered from cardiovascular disease and 11.8% struggled with food safety in general. However, the authors quickly noted that food insecurity increased during the study period from 8.2% to 10.2% before the Great Recession of 1999 to 2006 and 10.5% to 13.3% during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2010. It continued to climb to 18 .2% to 18.5% in 2015 to 2018.

“This finding highlights the strength of the association between food insecurity and cardiovascular disease,”which “we predict that … is bidirectional where food insecurity likely increases the risk of CVD and CVD affects socioeconomic factors that increase the risk of food insecurity,”the researchers note.

Based on this correlation and the risk it implies, the researchers urge physicians and the health care system to recognize the impact of social determinants of health, such as food insecurity, through screening tools.

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“Once identified, food insecurity can be addressed through a team-based approach that includes referral to social workers, caseworkers, or state social service departments for individuals to apply for food programs.”​ like the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, they claim.

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