Only in America

Posted: 9 December 2015 in Uncategorized


We know that going hungry is associated with an increase in hypoglycemia—both directly (because of a reduced ability to adhere to a diabetic diet) and indirectly (through increased emotional distress). One solution is, of course, an expansion of the food stamp program.

According to a recent study by Hilary K. Seligman, Ann F. BolgerDavid GuzmanAndrea López, and Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo (discussed here and here),

One in seven US households cannot reliably afford food. Food budgets are more frequently exhausted at the end of a month than at other points in time. We postulated that this monthly pattern influenced health outcomes, such as risk for hypoglycemia among people with diabetes. Using administrative data on inpatient admissions in California for 2000–08, we found that admissions for hypoglycemia were more common in the low-income than the high-income population (270 versus 210 admissions per 1,000,000). Risk for hypoglycemia admission increased 27 percent in the last week of the month compared to the first week in the low-income population, but we observed no similar temporal variation in the high-income population. These findings suggest that exhaustion of food budgets might be an important driver of health inequities.

On top of that, the costs of food budget exhaustion among low-income diabetics are likely to be much larger than estimated in their study, since many episodes are treated in the emergency department (and thus not captured in their data) or go untreated altogether, leading to potentially serious health problems or death.

That’s the cost of limiting the food-stamp program and forcing people to make do, especially at the end of the month.

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