One in seven U.S. households cannot reliably afford food, according to data from California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). Food budgets are more frequently exhausted at the end of a month than at other points in time.
In a recent research study, my colleagues and I postulated that this monthly pattern influenced health outcomes, such as risk for hypoglycemia among people with diabetes.
Hilary Seligman, MD
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 200 admissions per 100,000).
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. Policy solutions to improve stable access to nutrition in low-income populations and raise awareness of the health risks of food insecurity might be warranted.