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We examined the determinants of food insecurity among active duty Army households that transitioned into food insecurity during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
We compared Army households that recently transitioned into marginal food insecurity with those households that remained highly food secure (n 2832) to better understand how these households differ in their resilience to food insecurity during economic downturns using data from a military installation in the USA in 2020.
A US military installation in the USA.
Active duty US Army soldiers.
Prior to the pandemic, the prevalence of marginal food insecurity among Army households was similar to that reported for households in the general population. Marginal food insecurity among Army households increased over 1·5-fold – from 19 % to 33 % – with the onset of the pandemic. Relative to Army households with consistently high food security, the Army households that transitioned into marginal food insecurity after the onset of the pandemic were more likely to report concerns about financial insecurity and the job security of their family members.
Army households, like their civilian counterparts, are vulnerable to food insecurity because of instability in their income during periods of economic uncertainty. Periods of economic uncertainty are more common for Army households because of the frequent relocations associated with military service which could lead to predictable periodic spikes in their food insecurity.
The relationship between nutrition and behavioural health (BH) outcomes has been established in the literature. However, the relationship between nutrition and anxiety is unclear. Furthermore, the relationship between nutrition and BH outcomes has not been examined in a US Army Soldier population. This study sought to understand the relationship between Soldiers’ nutritional intake and anxiety as well as depression.
This cross-sectional study utilised multivariable logistic regression analyses to examine the relationship between nutritional intake and BH outcomes.
The study utilised data collected in 2018 during a BH epidemiological consultation conducted at one Army installation.
Participants were 7043 US Army Soldiers at one Army installation.
Of the Soldiers completing the survey, 12 % (n 812) screened positive for anxiety and 11 % (n 774) for depression. The adjusted odds of anxiety were significantly higher among Soldiers who reported low fruit intake compared with Soldiers who reported high fruit intake (adjusted OR (AOR) 1·36; 95 % CI 1·04, 1·79). The adjusted odds of depression were higher for Soldiers who reported low fruit intake (AOR 1·35; 95 % CI 1·01, 1·79) and/or low green vegetable intake (AOR 1·37; 95 % CI 1·02, 1·83). Lastly, the adjusted odds of depression were lower for Soldiers who reported low sugary drink intake (AOR 0·62; 95 % CI 0·48, 0·81).
This study is the first to examine the important connection between nutritional intake and anxiety and depression at a US military installation. The information learned from this study has implications for enhancing Soldiers’ nutritional knowledge and BH, ultimately improving Soldiers’ health and medical readiness.
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