J Nutr Health.  2015 Dec;48(6):519-529. 10.4163/jnh.2015.48.6.519.

Nutritional and health consequences are associated with food insecurity among Korean elderly: Based on the fifth (2010) Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES V-1)

  • 1Department of Nutritional Science and Food Management, Ewha Womans University, Seoul 03760, Korea. misocho@ewha.ac.kr


The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of food insecurity in Korean elderly and to analyze the health status as well as food and nutrient intakes according to food insecurity status.
A total of 939 elderly subjects (over 65 years old) were used in our analysis from the fifth 2010 Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES V-1). The variables consisted of general characteristics, physical and mental health, nutrient intake, rate of deficient intake of energy and nutrients compared with Dietary Reference Intakes for Koreans (KDRIs) and food quality and diversity according to the status of food insecurity. Food insecurity status was measured using a self-reported food security questionnaire on the dietary situation in the previous year, and participants were classified according to three groups: food secure group, mildly food insecure group, and moderately/severely food insecure group.
The proportion of the food insecure group was approximately 67% and the food insecure group had lower income and educational status than the food secure group. Food insecurity was associated with worse physical and mental health status after adjusting potentially confounding variables. The results showed that food insecurity in Korean elderly significantly affected mental health (including stress cognition, depression experience, and suicide thoughts) which exceeded stages of physical health. In addition, food insecurity showed significant association with low nutrient intake and high rate of deficient intakes of energy and nutrients compared with KDRIs, and a reduction of dietary quality and diversity was indicated in the food insecure group.
This study concludes that the prevalence of food insecurity may affect the physical and mental health as well as dietary intake of the elderly Korean population. Therefore, food insecurity should be considered as an important public health issue in Korea.


food insecurity; elderly; physical and mental health; nutrients intake; food quality and diversity
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