Food Insecurity Affects the Health Care System

It’s no secret that poor food leads to poor health. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has made an even more pointed discovery: food insecurity leads to higher health care costs.

Data collected from over 67,000 Ontarians aged 18-64 has demonstrated that the cost to the health care system for a household with marginal food insecurity were 16% higher. Particularly shocking for those who are aging is that when the costs of prescription drugs are factored into the household budget, the cost to the health care system can be as much as 121% higher for those with severe food insecurity but are pegged at 23% higher for even marginally food insecure households.

In an interview with Global News, Valerie Tarasik who authored the study, stated that, “almost every condition that we know of is more prevalent among people who are in food insecure situations, and people who are struggling to put food on the table are less likely to be able to properly manage those conditions – which might contribute to them using health care services more often.” Tarasik went on to estimate that the cost to the Ontario government’s health care budget could approach one billion dollars over a 12-month period.