TUESDAY, Oct. 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Food insecurity is prevalent among Medicare enrollees, affecting 38.3 percent of those aged younger than 65 years, according to a research letter published online Sept. 30 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Jeanne M. Madden, Ph.D., from the School of Pharmacy at Northeastern University in Boston, and colleagues presented national estimates of the prevalence of food insecurity within the Medicare population. The analysis was restricted to 9,674 community dwellers with continuous 2016 Medicare enrollment who completed a food security interview.

The researchers found that 38.3 percent of enrollees younger than 65 years reported food insecurity. Among enrollees age 65 years or older, 9.1 percent reported food insecurity, with higher rates for vulnerable groups such as those with income less than $15,000 (25.8 percent) and Medicaid dual enrollment (33.6 percent). In a multivariable analysis, in both age groups, all three lower-income categories were associated with food insecurity. In those aged <65 years and ≥65 years, reporting four or more chronic conditions (odds ratios, 2.07 and 1.91, respectively), depression (odds ratios, 2.65 and 1.60, respectively), or anxiety (odds ratios, 1.72 and 1.44, respectively) was associated with food insecurity. In secondary models assessing 10 conditions individually, diabetes showed borderline significance for individuals aged 65 years and older.

“Food insecurity screening and referral programs in clinical settings may benefit from recognition of high-risk patient groups,” the authors write.

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