Journal List > J Nutr Health > v.48(6) > 1081423

J Nutr Health. 2015 Dec;48(6):519-529. Korean.
Published online December 31, 2015.
© 2015 The Korean Nutrition Society
Nutritional and health consequences are associated with food insecurity among Korean elderly: Based on the fifth (2010) Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES V-1)
Seungjae Lee, Kyung Won Lee, Ji Eun Oh and Mi Sook Cho
Department of Nutritional Science and Food Management, Ewha Womans University, Seoul 03760, Korea.

To whom correspondence should be addressed. tel: +82-2-3277-2826, Email:
Received June 09, 2014; Revised July 29, 2014; Accepted November 23, 2015.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of food insecurity in Korean elderly and to analyze the health status as well as food and nutrient intakes according to food insecurity status.


A total of 939 elderly subjects (over 65 years old) were used in our analysis from the fifth 2010 Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES V-1). The variables consisted of general characteristics, physical and mental health, nutrient intake, rate of deficient intake of energy and nutrients compared with Dietary Reference Intakes for Koreans (KDRIs) and food quality and diversity according to the status of food insecurity. Food insecurity status was measured using a self-reported food security questionnaire on the dietary situation in the previous year, and participants were classified according to three groups: food secure group, mildly food insecure group, and moderately/severely food insecure group.


The proportion of the food insecure group was approximately 67% and the food insecure group had lower income and educational status than the food secure group. Food insecurity was associated with worse physical and mental health status after adjusting potentially confounding variables. The results showed that food insecurity in Korean elderly significantly affected mental health (including stress cognition, depression experience, and suicide thoughts) which exceeded stages of physical health. In addition, food insecurity showed significant association with low nutrient intake and high rate of deficient intakes of energy and nutrients compared with KDRIs, and a reduction of dietary quality and diversity was indicated in the food insecure group.


This study concludes that the prevalence of food insecurity may affect the physical and mental health as well as dietary intake of the elderly Korean population. Therefore, food insecurity should be considered as an important public health issue in Korea.

Keywords: food insecurity; elderly; physical and mental health; nutrients intake; food quality and diversity


Table 1
General characteristics of the subjects according to food insecurity status
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Table 2
Physical health of the subjects according to food insecurity status
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Table 3
Mental health of the subjects according to food insecurity status
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Table 4
Nutrients intake and CPF ratio of the subjects according to food insecurity status
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Table 5
The rate of deficient intakes of energy and nutrients compared with dietary reference intakes for Koreans (KDRIs) of the elderly over 65 according to food insecurity status
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Table 6
Index of nutritional quality of the elderly over 65 according to food insecurity status
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Table 7
Dietary variety score (DVS) and dietary diversity score (DDS) of the elderly over 65 according to food insecurity status
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