Understanding Food Security as a Social Determinant of Diabetes-Related Health during Pregnancy

Helen Gomez, Julia D. Ditosto, Charlotte M. Niznik, Lynn M. Yee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Gestational and pregestational diabetes during pregnancy are substantial and growing public health issues. Low-income individuals and individuals who identify as racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected. Food security, which is defined as the degree to which individuals have capacity to access and obtain food, is at the center of nutritional resources and decisions for individuals with diabetes. While increasingly recognized as an important mediator of health disparities in the United States, food insecurity is understudied during pregnancy and specifically among pregnant individuals with diabetes, for whom the impact of food-related resources may be even greater. Previous research has suggested that food insecurity is associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus diagnoses and disease exacerbation in the general adult population. An emerging body of research has suggested that food insecurity during pregnancy is associated with gestational diabetes mellitus diagnoses and adverse diabetes-related outcomes. Additionally, food insecurity during pregnancy may be associated with adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes. Future research and clinical work should aim to further examine these relationships and subsequently develop evidence-based interventions to improve diabetes-related outcomes among pregnant individuals with food insecurity. The purpose of this article is to offer a working definition of food security, briefly review issues of food insecurity and diabetes, summarize research on food insecurity and diabetes-related pregnancy health, and discuss clinical recommendations and areas for future investigation. Key Points Research on food insecurity and diabetes-related health is limited. The impact of food security on diabetes management and obstetric outcomes is likely significant. Future work to evaluate perinatal food security screening is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-832
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of perinatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - May 28 2021


  • food environment
  • food security
  • gestational diabetes mellitus
  • medical nutrition therapy
  • pregnancy
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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