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To examine the causal directionality in the relationship between food insecurity and emotional well-being among US-based populations.
Systematic literature review from January 2006 to July 2016 using MEDLINE (PubMed), PsychInfo, Web of Science and CINHAL. Inclusion criteria were: written in English; examined a longitudinal association between food insecurity and emotional well-being.
Children and adults.
Twelve out of 4161 peer-reviewed articles met inclusion criteria. Three articles examined the effect of emotional well-being on food insecurity, five studies examined the effect of food insecurity on emotional well-being, and four studies examined a bidirectional relationship. Most studies (83 %) reported a positive relationship between negative emotional well-being and food insecurity over time.
Findings suggest a bidirectional association whereby food insecurity increases the risk of poor emotional health, and poor emotional health increases the risk of food insecurity. Better-constructed studies are needed to follow cohorts at risk for both food insecurity and poor emotional health to further understand the mediators and moderators of the relationships. Intervention studies designed to mitigate or reverse risks are also needed to determine best evidence for practice and policy.
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