Abstract

COVID-19 infection has caused high rates of morbi-mortality in older adults (OAs). In addition, conditions such as depression, anxiety, unemployment, and poverty frequently contribute to this population being at higher risk of food insecurity (FI) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to analyze the prevalence of FI and its association with depressive and anxiety symptoms in Mexican OAs during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study involved a secondary analysis of the National Survey on the Effects of COVID-19 on the Wellbeing of Mexican Households (ENCOVID-19), a series of cross-sectional telephone surveys conducted between April and October 2020. The OA subsample was 1,065. FI was measured by using the Latin American and Caribbean Food Security Scale (ELCSA), and depression and anxiety symptoms were measured by using the Depression Scale of the Center for Epidemiological Studies (CESD-7) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD-2), respectively. Socioeconomic status (SES), occupation, schooling, and pension were also evaluated. ANOVA was used to compare the variables between the different FI groups, and logistic regression was used to analyze the risk between FI and the anxiety and depression variables. The mean age of the participants was 67.31 ± 6.4 years, and FI was classified as mild, moderate, and severe, with prevalences of 38.6, 15.04, and 8.16%, respectively. Overall, 28.01% of the OAs presented symptoms of anxiety and 39.09% of depression. In the comparison between groups, a higher prevalence of depressive symptoms was observed with a higher degree of FI, with 65.75% in moderate-to-severe, 10.39% in mild, and 9.40% without FI, p ≤ 0.000. Regarding anxiety symptoms, 48% of the OAs showed moderate-to-severe, 30.05% showed mild, and 15.38% were without FI, p ≤ 0.000. Using multiple logistic regression, an OR of 5.50 (95% CI 2.74-11.04) was observed for depressive symptoms when moderate-to-severe FI is present. In the case of the risk of anxiety symptoms, it was significant in all degrees of FI, in mild (OR = 2.43, 95% CI 1.66-3.59) and in moderate-to-severe (OR = 5.32, 95% CI 3.45-8.19). There is a high prevalence of FI in Mexican OAs during the COVID-19 pandemic. FI increases the risk of other conditions such as depression and anxiety. It is important to design and implement programs aimed at OAs with these conditions to reduce or prevent FI.

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