Original Article

Food insecurity increases risk of depression and anxiety among women in Senegal living with diabetes and/or hypertension

Rachel P. Allred, Ndèye A. Mbaye, Fatoumata Diagne, Sheryl A. Mccurdy, Melissa B. Harrell, Emma N. Bunkley
Journal of Public Health in Africa | Vol 14, No 10 | a71 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4081/jphia.2023.2467 | © 2024 Rachel P. Allred, Ndèye A. Mbaye, Fatoumata Diagne, Sheryl A. Mccurdy, Melissa B. Harrell, Emma N. Bunkley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 March 2024 | Published: 30 October 2023

About the author(s)

Rachel P. Allred, University of Texas at Houston Health Science Center, United States
Ndèye A. Mbaye, L'Université Gaston Berge, Senegal; and, West African Research Association, Senegal
Fatoumata Diagne, L'Université Gaston Berge, Senegal; and, West African Research Association, Senegal
Sheryl A. Mccurdy, University of Texas at Houston Health Science Center, United States
Melissa B. Harrell, University of Texas at Houston Health Science Center, United States
Emma N. Bunkley, West African Research Association, Senegal; and, University of Colorado, Denver, United States

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Abstract

Food insecurity affects close to half the population of Senegal, West Africa, a country simultaneously affected by the ongoing global diabetes pandemic. Diabetes and food insecurity are associated with adverse mental health, yet research exploring the relationship between chronic physical illness, food insecurity, and mental illness in Senegal is currently lacking. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between food insecurity and depression and anxiety, separately, in Senegalese women living with diabetes and hypertension. Food insecurity was measured using the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale. Occurrence of depression and anxiety symptoms was assessed using the Modified Hopkins Symptoms Checklist Survey (HSCL‑25). A sensitivity analysis examining the relationship between food insecurity and depression and anxiety was performed by comparing two previously validated cutoff values (1.75 and 2.25) on the HSCL‑25. Most participants (83%) had some level of food insecurity. More than 80% of the sample were depressed or anxious using 1.75 as the cutoff, while 42 and 60% were depressed or anxious, respectively, using 2.25 as the cutoff. Food insecurity increased relative risk for depression (RRR: 1.40, 95% CI: 1.05‑1.31, 1.75 as cutoff; RRR: 1.06, 95% CI: 0.99‑1.14, 2.25 as cutoff) and anxiety (RRR: 1.17, 95% CI: 1.05‑1.31, 1.75 as cutoff; RRR: 1.11, 95% CI: 1.04‑1.19, 2.25 as cutoff). These findings demonstrate that among populations suffering from diabetes and hypertension, food insecurity is a modifiable risk factor for depression and anxiety and a potential intervention target in this setting.

Keywords

Depression; anxiety; diabetes; food insecurity; women's health; mental health; Senegal

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