Food deserts and its impact on mental health



Publication Details

Walsan, R., Pai, N. & Rajan, B. (2016). Food deserts and its impact on mental health. Indian Journal of Social Psychiatry, 32 (4), 435-435. New Dehli, India XXXII World Congress of the World Association Of Social Psychiatry (WASP) 2016

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Indian Association for Social Psychiatry


Background: Areas with limited access to healthy, reasonably priced, nutritious food are often referred to as food deserts. These areas are often concentrated in lower socioeconomic neighbourhoods where mental health disorders are most prevalent as well. Unhealthy food choices are increasingly identified as a risk factor that promote mental illness and impede its management. Mentally ill can be adversely affected by this differential access to healthy food due to their lower income, inability to travel, physical and psychological limitations for food shopping. The objective of this study is to assess the potential impact of food deserts on mental illness. Methods: Published literature was reviewed in order to assess the burden of food deserts on mental illness using databases like Scopus and Medline. Results: Inequity in food access has been reported to contribute to disparity in eating habits and health outcomes. While food deserts have been studied extensively in the context of obesity and diabetes, its impact on mental illness still remains unexplored. One challenge in this direction would be to delineate the impact due to food access from other socioeconomic determinants affecting mental health. Conclusions: Further research is needed to understand the impact of food desert on mental illness.

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