Food insecurity, mental health and in-hospital mortality following the COVID-19 pandemic in a socially deprived UK coastal town

Cain, Russell and French, Maddy and Sedda, Luigi (2023) Food insecurity, mental health and in-hospital mortality following the COVID-19 pandemic in a socially deprived UK coastal town. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention Health.

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Background Public health interventions are essential to prevent a long tail of costly, avoidable and worsening ill health in coastal communities following the COVID-19 pandemic, yet no research exists to guide policy and practice as to which groups within coastal communities are vulnerable and most in need of such interventions. Within this aim, we explore engrained and emerging vulnerabilities of food insecurity, health and well-being for different demographic groups within the deprived coastal community of Fleetwood, Lancashire, UK, before and after the pandemic.Methods Routinely collected data of free school meal eligibility, community mental health referrals and hospital admissions between 28 March 2016 and 31 December 2021 were aggregated by locality and deprivation within Fleetwood. Temporal autoregressive models, generalised linear mixed models and survival analyses were employed to compare trends and associations in food insecurity, health and well-being indicators against deprivation indices, demographics, comorbidities (including COVID-19), the COVID-19 pandemic period and locality.Results Areas with better housing and income, but higher health and disability deprivation, showed increased levels of free school meal eligibility following the pandemic. Mental health was insensitive to the first 14 months of pandemic yet is worsened by unemployment deprivation and cardiovascular and respiratory comorbidities, with a greater predisposition to poor mental health in adolescents and young adults. After accounting for the effect of COVID-19, hospital mortality risk increased with demographic influences in fitting with the typology of coastal communities having an older population, struggling healthcare and a greater prevalence of comorbidities.Conclusions Public health managers and policy makers seeking to prevent worsening health and well-being within coastal communities following the pandemic should focus on broader-scale patterns reflecting entrenched poor health typical of coastal communities, and emerging food insecurity within specific demographic and deprivation groups at finer scales.Data are available on reasonable request.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
BMJ Nutrition, Prevention Health
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Research Output Funding/yes_externally_funded
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Deposited On:
05 Jun 2023 14:50
Last Modified:
04 Oct 2023 00:58