PurposeElderly people are at higher risk of food insecurity because of limited or uncertain inaccessibility to adequate food supply. This is not only as a result of economic limitation but also as the outcome of the inability to intake food because of cognitive or functional impairment and health problems. Because of the lack of data about food insecurity and depression among the elderly population in Iran, this study was conducted to examine the relationship between socioeconomic factors and depression with food insecurity among the elderly population.Design/methodology/approachThis cross-sectional study was performed in 2016 on 720 elderly people of Qarchak city that were selected by the proportional stratified sampling method. Food insecurity was evaluated using the FaCPS-FSSM food security questionnaire; Geriatric Depression Scale questionnaire to measure the score of depression and the socioeconomic questionnaire filled out during interviews. All statistical analyses were performed using the SPSS version 22 software.FindingsFood insecurity was found in 396 (56.1%) of the elderly population. Food insecure elderly population had lower education (P < 0.001). While the percentage of educated individuals who were in food security was 53.2%, the percentage for not educated participants was 28.7%. Household economic status (P < 0.001). Data showed 64.6% of individuals with the normal economic condition were in food security, and the percent for the poor economic condition was 37.2%. Food insecurity was highly associated with depression in the elderly population (odds ratio: 4.76, 8.92 and 3.32 for mild, moderate and severe hunger, respectively, P < 0.001).Originality/valueFood insecurity is related to low economic status and education. The results of this study indicated that food help from governmental organizations, charities and having health insurance may be associated with reduced risk of food insecurity in the elderly population and consequently lower depression prevalence among them.

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