“The bridge between the two issues is depression,”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Core Food Security Module, “food insecurity” reflects rationing, portion control and inability to offer families balanced meals.
Hernandez followed data from nearly 1,700 women involved in a romantic relationship (married or cohabitating with a partner) who also had experienced intimate partner violence (physical, mental and/or sexual).
She found that mothers who experienced intimate partner violence were at 44 percent greater odds of experiencing depression. Additionally, households in which mothers experienced depression were twice as likely to experience food insecurity.
“It appears that depression may impact mothers’ motivation to obtain and prepare food due to their decreased appetite, mental and physical fatigue and feelings of being overwhelmed,”
Hernandez studies the impact of family dynamics on nutrition, health and obesity. She says few studies have examined how maternal health challenges impact a household’s food security. The goal of this study was to increase the understanding of how the family environment and women’s health impact the lives of families with young children. She says this information may prove valuable for those organizations charged with supporting families in times of crisis.
“What this means is that targeting issues central to women’s health must become a priority in combating food insecurity,”
The study is now accessible online in the Journal of Women’s Health.