A new study has found that food insecurity is associated with poor sleep quality and quantity in adults.
Food insecurity was linked with poor sleep quality and quantity in adults 18 years and older, according to a new study published in Public Health Nutrition. This study also emphasized that addressing food insecurity could provide health benefits outside of nutritional status alone.
Food insecurity is defined as having “limited or uncertain access to nutritionally adequate and safe food or the ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways due to limited financial resources,” according to the US Department of Agriculture. Moderate or severe food insecurity increased from 8.3% in 2014 to 25.9% in 2020. This meta-analysis aimed to pool the evidence of a relationship between food insecurity and sleep.
The researchers used PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Embase to search for studies published from inception of said databases to June 6, 2022, to include in the meta-analysis. Observational studies, studies conducted on adults 18 years and older, and studies that reported effect estimates in odds ratio (ORs), relative risk, or HR were included. The quality of each study was assessed with the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale.
There were 9 studies included in the analysis, and they accounted for 83,764 participants. All studies were published between 2013 and 2021 and 8 were conducted in the United States. The ORs were pooled from the 9 studies.
There was increased risk of poor sleep quality that correlated to the severity of food insecurity, with mild (OR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.16-1.48), moderate (OR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.32-1.68), and severe (OR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.63-2.20) food severity demonstrating associations. Trouble falling asleep (OR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.05-1.83) and trouble staying asleep (OR, 1.91; 95% CI, 1.37-2.67) were also associated with food insecurity severity. Increased risk of poor sleep quality was associated with food insecurity inside (OR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.22-1.70) and outside of the United States (OR, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.36-1.77).
An increased risk of short (OR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.07-1.21) or long (OR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.03-1.26) sleep duration was associated with food insecurity, with a subgroup analysis finding that an increased risk of short sleep duration (OR, 1.59; 95% CI, 1.16-2.18) was associated with a severe level of food insecurity.
There were some limitations to this study. Causality could not be interpreted from this analysis, as the studies included were all cross-sectional, and the studies may not be generalizable to the rest of the world, as 8 were conducted in the United States.
The researchers concluded that this meta-analysis determined the relationship between food insecurity and poor sleep quality and quantity in adults 18 years and older. Severity of food insecurity had a direct link to sleep quality and quantity in this demographic.
Mazloomi SN, Talebi S, Kazemi M, et al. Food insecurity is associated with the sleep quality and quantity in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Public Health Nutr. Published online November 23, 2022. doi:10.1017/s1368980022002488