Can food insecurity lead to poorer type 2 diabetes outcomes?


A session at the virtual Scientific Sessions for the American Diabetes Association examines the role food insecurity may play in glycemic control and acute complication among type 2 diabetes patients.

Food insecurity is a problem for everyone, but it can pose a particular problem for adolescents and young adults who have type 2 diabetes who are trying to maintain good glycemic control and reduce the risks of diabetes complications. At the 81st virtual Scientific Sessions for the American Diabetes Association, Lauren A. Reid, MPH, a graduate research assistant at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, presented results from a study that examined the impact of household food insecurity on the prevalence of poor glycemic control and acute complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis and hypoglycemia.

The investigators used the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study to find the participants. These participants were given a US Household Food Security Survey Module, which was completed by the participant if they were an adult or by a parent for adolescent participants. Three or more food insecure conditions were considered indicative of food insecurity. Hemoglobin A1c levels were used to measure glycemic control and were attained using a sample of whole blood. Acute complications were found via a survey that asked about complications that occurred in the previous 12-month period. The sample used in the study was highly diverse with only 19.3% of the participants being non-Hispanic White. Roughly half of the participants had a household income of <$25,000.

Overall in the sample, 34% of the participants were considered food insecure. Fifty-five percent had glycemic control that was considered high risk and acute complications occurred in 10.8% of the participants. The investigators found that hemoglobin A1c levels were lower among participants with household food insecurity than among those who were food secure, but this was not statistically significant. Additionally, the likelihood of poor glycemic control was found to have a significant relationship to household food insecurity. However, participants who had food insecurity were found to have 2.3 times the odds of either diabetic ketoacidosis or hypoglycemia than those in a food secure household. The investigating team believe that future studies should examine whether reducing food insecurity could reduce the frequency of hypoglycemia episodes and diabetic ketoacidosis.


1. Reid LA. Food insecurity and glycemic control among youth and young adults with type 2 diabetes. American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions 2021; June 27, 2021; virtual. Accessed June 27, 2021.

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