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


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



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


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.

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How to Cite

Allred, R. P., Mbaye, N. A., Diagne, F., Mccurdy, S. A., Harrell, M. B., & Bunkley, E. N. (2023). Food insecurity increases risk of depression and anxiety among women in Senegal living with diabetes and/or hypertension. Journal of Public Health in Africa, 14(10).



Original Articles