Hunger’s Impact on Mental Health


A recent study conducted by Bread for the World Institute estimates that hunger costs the U.S economy $160 billion every year in poor health outcomes and healthcare expenses.   The most expensive hunger related health problem by far are those related to mental health.  About half of all hunger related expenses, $78.7 billion, were due to problems such as depression, anxiety and suicide.

HOW DO THE HEALTH COSTS OF HUNGER STACK UP?break down of cost

Children and seniors in particular are at risk for mental health issues related to hunger.   Research has shown that those growing up in  food-insecure households are exposed to chronic levels of stress that make them vulnerable to depression, thoughts of suicide, substance abuse, and poor performance in school.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a safety-net program that provides nutrition assistance to low-income families.  It is the most successful food program in the U.S to alleviate hunger and reduce poverty.  A 2015 White House report on the long term benefits of SNAP found that three-quarters of recipient households have a child, and elderly member, or a member with a disability.

Read the full report on hunger related health costs

Read the White House report on the long term benefits of SNAP