Food Insecurity and Psychosocial Burden in a National Community-Based Sample of Households Managing Food Allergy

Samantha Sansweet, Anita Roach, Andrea A. Pappalardo, Jennaveve C. Yost, Justine Asante, Christopher Warren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Experiencing food allergies and food insecurity has been linked to socioeconomic, physical, and mental health-related challenges, but less is known about the intersection of these experiences. This study aims to better understand the impact of food insecurity on food allergy patients and their caregivers, with the intention of informing ongoing efforts to improve screening for food insecurity and mental health concerns and reducing their burden among households managing food allergy. Method: As part of a community needs assessment, a cross-sectional survey was administered to a large, national sample (N=5,940) of US households with at least one food-allergic individual, The Hunger Vital Sign was utilized to assess food insecurity, the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-4) and Food Allergy Independent Measure (FAIM) were leveraged to measure psychosocial outcomes. Results: Among respondents, 69.9% screened at-risk of food insecurity on the Hunger Vital Sign, while 5.6% reported very low food security. Both adults and children with food allergy (FA) from households at risk for food insecurity were more likely to report FA-related anxiety, anger, loneliness, fear of eating, and bullying victimization than their counterparts from households not at risk of food insecurity (p <.0001 for all). Among these specific experiences, FA-related anxiety was the most common (25.4%/30.1% of children/adults). Perceived risk of food allergy-related fatality was positively associated with food insecurity status. Conclusion: Individuals with food allergies who are concomitantly experiencing food insecurity are at greater risk of a variety of mental health concerns, including those specific to food allergy as well as more general anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Promotion Practice
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • anxiety
  • food allergy
  • food hypersensitivity
  • food insecurity
  • mental health
  • psychosocial burden
  • public health
  • quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)

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