Hunger Is a Major Culprit in Health Problems

A recent study showed that there was an increase at the end of the the month in the number of visits to the emergency room from low-income patients who had low blood sugar.

As a physician who treats diabetic patients, this increase doesn’t surprise me as people try to manage their diabetes with fewer food resources at that time of month.

Food insecurity means not having regular access to an adequate quantity of nutritious food, and it is a real problem for many in our area. In the HCF service area, there are approximately 230,000 people facing food insecurity.

Food insecurity is associated with a range of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, altered blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and various heart disease risk factors. It also has real effects on mental health.

Jason is a perfect example. When he lost his job and then his apartment, he had to live couch to couch. He had no car and often lived where public transportation was not available. I took care of him when he had paralyzing depression, weight loss, anemia and fatigue.

It took me a while to figure out that he was suffering from profound malnutrition. He had been eating mostly tater tots from the local gas station, which was within walking distance. When he was able to eat better, his physical and mental ailments were much easier to treat. Bags of groceries corrected what never should have happened in the first place.

As our HCF associates and outside reviewers begin their process of reviewing applications for funding, I want to take a moment and thank all of those working toward making adequate nutrition available to all in our area. These efforts aren’t easy. It requires creative thinking, hard work and dedication. But these efforts don’t just provide food to those in need. They help with health on all levels.

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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at


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