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Association of Problematic Alcohol Use and Food Insecurity among Homeless Men and Women

Department of Psychological, Health & Learning Sciences, The University of Houston, 3657 Cullen Blvd Stephen Power Farish Hall, Houston, TX 77204, USA
HEALTH Research Institute, The University of Houston, 4849 Calhoun Rd., Houston, TX 77204, USA
Department of Health & Human Performance, The University of Houston, 3875 Holman Street, Garrison Gymnasium, Room 104, Houston, TX 77204, USA
Cizik School of Nursing, The University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA
Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, 655 Research Parkway, Suite 400, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3631;
Received: 19 April 2020 / Revised: 17 May 2020 / Accepted: 18 May 2020 / Published: 21 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Homelessness and Public Health)
Food insecurity results from unreliable access to affordable and nutritious food. Homeless adults are particularly vulnerable to both food insecurity and problematic alcohol use. The current study examined the link between problematic alcohol use and food insecurity among homeless adults. Participants (N = 528; 62.7% men; Mage = 43.6 ± 12.2) were recruited from homeless-serving agencies in Oklahoma City. Problematic alcohol use was measured using the Alcohol Quantity and Frequency Questionnaire and the Patient Health Questionnaire. The latter used DSM-IV diagnostic criteria to assess probable alcohol use dependence/abuse. Heavy drinking was considered >7 drinks (women) and >14 drinks (men) per week. Food insecurity was measured with the USDA Food Security Scale-Short Form. The link between alcohol problems and food insecurity was examined with logistic regression analyses controlling for sex, age, education, income, and months homeless. Overall, 28.4% of the sample had probable alcohol dependence, 25% were heavy drinkers, and 78.4% were food insecure. Probable alcohol dependence and heavy drinking were correlated at 0.53 (p < 0.001). Results indicated that heavy drinking (OR = 2.12, CI.95 = 1.21, 3.73) and probable alcohol dependence/abuse (OR = 2.72, CI.95 = 1.55, 4.77) were each associated with increased odds of food insecurity. Food insecurity and problematic alcohol use are major issues among homeless populations; this study suggests they are associated. Future research is needed to shed light on potential causal mechanisms and on whether alcohol may take precedence over eating or food purchases. View Full-Text
Keywords: alcohol use; homeless; drinking behaviors; alcohol dependence; food insecurity; sex alcohol use; homeless; drinking behaviors; alcohol dependence; food insecurity; sex
MDPI and ACS Style

Reitzel, L.R.; Chinamuthevi, S.; Daundasekara, S.S.; Hernandez, D.C.; Chen, T.-A.; Harkara, Y.; Obasi, E.M.; Kendzor, D.E.; Businelle, M.S. Association of Problematic Alcohol Use and Food Insecurity among Homeless Men and Women. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 3631.

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