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What is food insecurity and why is it common among Gen Z adults?

What is food insecurity and why is it common among Gen Z adults?

Food insecurity revolves around the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of a lack of money and other resources. It doesn’t necessarily cause hunger. However, hunger is a possible outcome of it. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) divides food insecurity into two categories.

These are the two categories. Low food security refers to the reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake. Meanwhile, very low food security refers to reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake. 

Food insecurity is more common among Gen Z adults.

According to The Conversation, adult members of Generation Z experience food insecurity at over twice the rate of the average American. About 1 in 3 Americans born from 1996-2004 have had trouble affording enough food in 2022. This, of course, compares with fewer than 1 in 5 millennials and members of Generation X, and fewer than 1 in 10 baby boomers. 

When food insecurity surges, it can take a long time for affected populations to recover. There was a Great Recession running from 2007 to 2009 and during that time, food insecurity increased by 34%. Then, it took a decade for food insecurity to drop to its pre-recession levels. 

Photo from foodprint.org

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on the other hand, food insecurity increased once again.

However, this runs rampant among the most vulnerable groups in society, such as seniors and households with children. This, on the other hand, remains obvious as they either have no work-from-home jobs to sustain them or the number of people they have to provide for. Aside from that, it also increased for Gen Z adults who became the group likely to face unemployment. 

For those Gen Z who were in college, the pandemic reduced essential food services on campus. Unfortunately, this increased the number of students dropping out of school. With inflation soaring at the fastest pace in forty years, those who lost jobs during the pandemic and college students with fixed incomes have to stretch the already-limited resources they have even further at the grocery store. 

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The Conversation also had a survey that showed a significant portion of Gen Z, 30% portion of Gen Z, relied on free groceries from a pantry, church, or other charity. In the Philippines, on the other hand, many Filipino Gen Z adults move back to or stay in their parents’ homes to be able to have food when they need it. 

Increased risk for a variety of negative health outcomes and health disparities.

According to The Healthy People’s research on Social Determinants of Health, adults who are food insecure may be at an increased risk for a variety of negative health outcomes and health disparities. They cited a study that found that food insecure adults may be at an increased risk for obesity. They also cited another study that found higher rates of chronic disease in low-income, food-insecure adults between the ages of 18 and 65. 

Although a lot of studies have shown up regarding this topic, more research is still needed to understand food insecurity and its influence on health outcomes and disparities. Future studies should also consider the characteristics of communities and households that influence this. 

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