You are probably aware of the impact food has on your health. That same connection is true for many of the people who struggle with hunger in our community. Not always having access to the food you need or only having access to poor quality food impacts your health. Two new studies continue to fill in the picture of the connection between hunger and health. They focus on two key health conditions and the impact of food security: iron deficiency in pregnant women, and chronic kidney disease.
During pregnancy, anemia, or a shortage of iron, can lead to poor health for both mother and child. This study found that pregnant women who were food insecure were almost three times more likely to have iron deficiency. This difference is likely due to lower overall iron intake and the types of foods that food insecure women are getting iron from. The authors found that food security was better at predicting iron deficiency than just income alone.
Chronic kidney disease is the general term for conditions that cause damage to your kidneys, disrupting their ability to keep you healthy. Two of the main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure; conditions that we know are prevalent among food insecure individuals. The second study discovered that food insecure individuals with either diabetes or high blood pressure had higher rates of chronic kidney disease than their food secure counterparts.
There is still work to be done to stop hunger in Western Washington. The good news is that much of the food we need to do that is out there, waiting to be rescued and turned into healthy meals for people in need. For example, programs like Mobile Food Pantry get fresh produce and other food directly to high need areas in Cowlitz and Whatcom counties. Your support helps create solutions to hunger that get more fresh produce to food banks and meal programs.