In addition to genetic predispositions to disease, clinical care and public and health policies and practices, good health is the result of personal behaviors and a person’s environment and community. According to the Nutrition Screening Initiative, 4 out of 5 adults have chronic diseases that are affected by diet. Chronic physical and mental health problems sap stamina, and hunger complicates illness. The University of Minnesota Food Industry Center’s Cost and Benefit of Hunger Study (2010) showed that the effects of hunger cost the state of Minnesota $1.6 billion every year in healthcare, hospitalization, medication, education and other costs, including lost productivity at work and in school.
Malnutrition can blunt immunity, exacerbate disease, prevent healing, and lead to hospital stays that drive up costs like tax-funded Medicare and Medicaid.
Minnesota’s adult obesity rate is 30.1%, closing in on the national rate and ranking our state 35th highest in the nation. Childhood obesity rates have been rising for decades. Obese children tend to become obese adults, who are prone to many health problems. The latest analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows that the percentage of children ages 2 to 19 who are obese increased from 14% in 1999 to 18.5% in 2015 and 2016. There was also a large increase in obesity among the youngest children – ages 2 to 5 years old. In that age group, obesity increased from about 9% to almost 14%.
Other Food-Related Health Complications includes heart disease, fatty liver disease, hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol levels.
A new study published (October 2019) in the scientific journal PLOS (Public Library of Science) adds to a growing body of research that supports the connection between diet and mental health. The Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging reports that nearly 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness, with depression and anxiety disorders the most common among older adults. AARP says that 60% of seniors are more likely to experience depression because of food insecurity.
Poor eating habits can result in poor nutritional health and even serious health concerns like malnutrition.