Chronic pain and depressive symptoms are related to food insecurity among urban food bank users.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of public health (Oxford, England)


food and nutrition; obesity; psychological determinants; diversity/inclusion


BACKGROUND: Food bank users suffer high food insecurity. Food insecurity increases risk for chronic health conditions. However, chronic pain and its relation to food insecurity among food bank users is unknown. Knowledge about populations with chronic pain is important to direct appropriate public health nutritional strategies.

METHODS: Participants completed a survey including sleep, pain, depressive symptoms and food insecurity measures. Descriptive statistics characterized the burden of chronic pain among the sample, and a series of chi-square and t-tests assessed for demographic differences between food bank users who reported pain compared to those who did not. Logistic regression tested for variables predicting food insecurity.

RESULTS: Within the sample (N = 207), 53% reported a chronic pain diagnosis. Adults with pain were more likely to receive food stamps and to have a mental health condition than those without pain. Regression analyses revealed that depressive symptoms and chronic pain significantly predicted food insecurity when controlling for age and gender.

CONCLUSIONS: Exploring the link between depression, pain and nutritional resources may enhance understanding of causal relationships driving food insecurity. Public health officials should address nutritional needs of adults including those with chronic pain who use food bank services.