Female sex and food insecurity in relation to self-reported poor or fair mental health in Canadian adults: a cross-sectional study using national survey data

Catherine M. Pound, Yue Chen
2021 CMAJ Open  
Women with food insecurity are at higher risk for mental health disorders. This study examined the joint effect of female sex and food insecurity on self-reported poor or fair mental health in Canadian adults. The analysis was based on data from adults (age ≥ 18 yr) who participated in the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2015-2016. We determined past-year food security level (secure, moderately insecure or severely insecure) based on 18 questions. We used log-binomial regression to
more » ... re associations of sex and food insecurity with self-reported poor or fair mental health. We measured additive interaction between female sex and food insecurity using relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI). The overall response rate for the CCHS was 59.5%. Data for 61 446 respondents were analyzed. Poor or fair mental health was reported by 4107 participants (6.1% when weighted to the Canadian population). Increased risk of poor or fair mental health was associated with female sex (prevalence ratio [PR] 1.22, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.12 to 1.31), and moderate (PR 2.50, 95% CI 2.21 to 2.82) and severe (PR 4.03, 95% CI 3.59 to 4.52) food insecurity. Significant additive interaction between female sex and severe food insecurity was found for those aged 40-64 years (RERI 1.38, 95% CI 0.29 to 2.47), and the PR for poor or fair mental health for severely food-insecure women was 5.55 (95% CI 4.48 to 6.89) compared to food-secure men of the same age group. Poor or fair mental health is common in the food-insecure population, and there exists synergism between female sex and severe food insecurity among middle-aged people. This suggests the need to develop targeted mental health support strategies for food-insecure people, specifically middle-aged women.
doi:10.9778/cmajo.20200112 pmid:33514600 pmcid:PMC7864695 fatcat:t2i2gywjofdsffjbjd77s7nvji