Association between food insecurity and cognitive function among older adults Research Paper, UOS, Malaysia What is the association between cognitive functioning and food insecurity in the Malaysian older population aged 60 years and above

University Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS)
Subject Association between food insecurity and cognitive function among older adults


What is the association between cognitive functioning and food insecurity in the Malaysian older population aged 60 years and above?


Magaña-Lemus et al. (2016) identified food insecurity as among the global public health issues. Food insecurity affects nearly 27% of the global population, with 11% experiencing extreme food insecurity (Smith et al., 2017). Nevertheless, food insecurity varies according to national and personality variables. Food insecurity is more widespread in low- and middle-income nations than in strong ones (Smith et al., 2017), with developing and middle-income economies having the highest rates, while Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and North America have the lowest rates (Meade & Smith, 2019).

Poverty significantly impacts whether people have enough food availability across the world (Smith et al., 2017). Low literacy, a lack of social ties, social equity, a low family income, and joblessness increase one’s chances of suffering food insecurity (Meade & Smith, 2019). Furthermore, age, the number of dependent children, civil status, and rural residency is related to a greater likelihood of persons suffering food insecurity and extreme undernourishment globally (Smith et al., 2017).

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Globally, similar social-demographic variables contribute to food insecurity. There are, nevertheless, disparities across nations. This research concentrate on food insecurity in Malaysia, a country with a middle-income economy. Food insecurity affects a large proportion of the Malaysian population. For instance, 85.2% of the Malaysian population in rural areas is food insecure. According to research conducted in Malaysia, the living arrangements, civil status, income level, and health condition of family members may all influence the possibility of food insecure households.

Having additional children, being a divorced, widowed, or female head of the family, having a poor education, a low wage, communicating through an indigenous language, and residing in a rural location were all associated with food-insecure households (Magaña-Lemus et al., 2016). Literacy, in particular, has been consistently related to food and nutrition security since it typically corresponds to improved socioeconomic status and more significant financial assets, which could positively influence how resources are handled in the home.

Food insecurity is considered among the many barriers that may hasten cognitive deterioration throughout aging, which is assumed to commence as young as one’s twenties and thirties (Salthouse, 2009). At least two aspects, bad eating behaviors, and emotional discomfort may explain the link between cognitive functioning and food insecurity among the older generation. Prior study reveals that diet and lifestyle behavior changes related to food insecurity might significantly impact cognitive function (McEvoy et al., 2019).

Food insecurity is linked to poor nutritional status, including a decreased consumption of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables (Hanson & Connor, 2014) and a lack of commitment to good eating habits (Gregório et al., 2018). This fall in nutrition richness may indicate a higher rate of cognitive impairment (Morris et al., 2006; Petersson & Philippou, 2016). Food insecurity could also lead to increased frustration (Jones, 2017), which can affect brain chemistry and cognition during adulthood (Lupien et al., 2009). Food insecurity adds to the body’s accumulated physiological damage, referred to as allostatic strain, involving inflammatory and neuroendocrine disruptions (McClain et al., 2018). Higher inflammation (Echouffo-Tcheugui et al., 2018) and cortisol elevations (Walker et al., 2019) have recently been linked to reduced cognition in middle-to-late adulthood.

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Food insecurity’s influence on memory and cognitive function during brain aging may differ depending on when adversity arises. Furthermore, it is unknown how much food insecurity leads to alterations in cognition in adults and which particular cognitive processes may be most vulnerable. This research aims to explore the link between cognitive functioning and food insecurity among the older Malaysian population over 60 years


The research shall utilize a cross-sectional study design to explore the link between cognitive functioning and food insecurity among the elderly population in Malaysia. Subjects in this research are chosen based on specific subjects of interest, including age, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. Cross-sectional researches are common in cognitive science but are employed in numerous other fields, such as social education and science. Cross-sectional research is based on observation and is classified as descriptive research rather than relational or causal study, meaning it cannot pinpoint the source of anything, including an illness (Setia, 2016). Researchers collect information from society, but they do not change factors.

Cross-sectional research design can uncover demographic characteristics but does not describe cause-and-effect interrelation between different elements (Setia, 2016). This technique is often utilized to make inferences about significant associations to permit further studies and testing (Setia, 2016). Cross-sectional investigations often enable researchers to gather a large amount of data fast. Questionnaires are often used to gather data cheaply in this research design. Investigators may collect vast volumes of data from many people (Setia, 2016). Researchers may gather data on various factors to determine how they impact a specific situation.

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