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Public Health Rep ; 137(6): 1187-1197, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2002023


OBJECTIVES: Financial hardships, job losses, and social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic have increased food insecurity. We examined associations between food insecurity-related interventions and mental health among US adults aged ≥18 years from April 2020 through August 2021. METHODS: We pooled data from the Household Pulse Survey from April 2020 through August 2021 (N = 2 253 567 adults). To estimate associations between mental health and food insecurity, we examined the following interventions: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Economic Impact Payments (stimulus funds), unemployment insurance, and free meals. We calculated psychological distress index (PDI) scores (Cronbach α = 0.91) through principal components analysis using 4 mental health variables: depression, anxiety, worry, and lack of interest (with a standardized mean score [SD] = 100 [20]). We conducted multivariable linear regression to estimate the interactive effects of the intervention and food insecurity on psychological distress, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics. RESULTS: During the study period, adults with food insecurity had higher mean PDI scores than adults without food insecurity. Food insecurity was associated with increased PDI scores after controlling for sociodemographic characteristics. In stratified models, negative associations between food insecurity and mental health (as shown by reductions in PDI scores) were mitigated by SNAP (-4.5), stimulus fund (-4.1), unemployment insurance (-4.4), and free meal (-4.4) interventions. The mitigation effects of interventions on PDI were greater for non-Hispanic White adults than for non-Hispanic Black or Asian adults. CONCLUSIONS: Future research on food insecurity and mental health should include investigations on programs and policies that could be of most benefit to racial and ethnic minority groups.

COVID-19 , Food Assistance , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Ethnicity , Food Insecurity , Food Supply , Humans , Mental Health , Minority Groups , Pandemics , Poverty