Food security is a measure of people’s access to food. To be food secure, all people at all times should have physical, social, and financial access to enough safe and healthy food that meets their preferences and needs for an active and healthy life. Sadly, this is not always the case. A growing number of people are food insecure today.

Food insecurity is common

Researchers used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003-2016 to measure participants’ food insecurity and HbA1c levels. HbA1c is the most common blood test to measure blood sugar in people with diabetes. Participants either had undiagnosed diabetes or diagnosed diabetes based on their blood sugar level or whether they were told by a doctor that they had diabetes.

Food security matters for all people

Researchers found that about 14% of participants (35,216 adults) had food insecurity. People with food insecurity had higher (less healthy) HbA1c levels for diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes. For the people with undiagnosed diabetes, those with food insecurity had 80% higher likelihood of HbA1c above 7%. This means food insecure people were more likely to have higher blood sugar levels.

Blood sugar connection

From this research, it is clear that food insecurity is strongly linked to HbA1c for those with undiagnosed diabetes. This research also shows the importance of screening for people with food insecurity who may be at high risk for undiagnosed diabetes.


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