Asian / Pacific Island Nursing Journal

Corresponding Author

Sonia Lai


Background: Proper nutrition is an essential component to both physical and emotional health. Food insecurity (FI) is a potentially critical public health problem. The link between FI and elevated risk for depression has been well documented. Yet, it is largely unknown how diverse older adult populations experience FI differently. Therefore, the aims of this study were to examine how gender, race/ethnicity, and nativity may impact the magnitude of the association between FI and depression.

Methods: We used a nationally representative sample of the Asian American population from the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS). We built logistic regression models with major depression in the past 12 months as the dependent variable, and FI as the independent variable. Several demographic and socioeconomic characteristics were added to the models to control for potential biases. All statistical estimates were weighted, using the recommended NLAAS sampling weight, to ensure representativeness of the US population.

Results: About 35% (weighted adjusted 95% CI: 29.49–39.00) of Asian Americans experienced some level of FI at the time of survey. Experiencing FI over the past 12 months increased the likelihood of having clinical depression (weighted adjusted odds ratio: 1.44, weight adjusted confidence interval: 0.79–2.10). The magnitude of associations between FI and depression varied by race/ethnicity (F (7, 47) = 6.53, p (3, 41) = 10.56, p (3, 41) = 9.85).

Conclusions: Food insecurity significantly increases the likelihood of clinical depression among Asian Americans. Greater attention is needed towards food-insecure Asian Americans and their mental health.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests



National Institute of Health (K01NR015101).