Identification of factors related to food insecurity and the implications for social determinants of health screenings.

Peer-reviewed article
(2021 Jul) BMC Public Health, 21 1410


Banks AR, Bell BA, Ngendahimana D, Embaye M, Freedman DA, Chisolm DJ



Food insecurity and other social determinants of health are increasingly being measured at routine health care visits. Understanding the needs and behaviors of individuals or families who screen positive for food insecurity may inform the types of resources they need. The goal of this research was to identify modifiable characteristics related to endorsement of two food insecurity screener questions to better understand the resources necessary to improve outcomes.


Analysis was conducted focusing on cross-sectional survey data collected in 2015-2016 from participants (N = 442) living in urban neighborhoods in Ohio with limited access to grocery stores. Food insecurity was assessed by the endorsement of at least one of two items. These were used to categorize participants into two groups: food insecure(N = 252) or food secure (N = 190). Using logistic regression, we estimated the association between several variables and the food insecure classification.


Those that used their own car when shopping for food had lower odds of reporting food insecurity, as did those with affirmative attitudes related to the convenience of shopping for and ease of eating healthy foods. As shopping frequency increased, the odds of food insecurity increased. Food insecurity also increased with experience of a significant life event within the past 12 months. There was an 81% increase in the odds of reporting food insecurity among participants who received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits compared to those not receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.


Along with referrals to SNAP, clinicians can further address screening-identified food insecurity through provision of transportation supports and linkages to other social services while collaborating on community initiatives to promote convenient and easy access to healthy foods. The needs and behaviors associated with screens indicating food insecurity also have implications for impacting other SDH, and thus, health outcomes.