Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

Food Insufficiency in Currently or Formerly Homeless Persons Is Associated with Poorer Health

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

Food Insufficiency in Currently or Formerly Homeless Persons Is Associated with Poorer Health

Article excerpt

Abstract

Our objectives were to explore the relation between food insufficiency and the health of clientele who frequent services for the homeless; and to compare that clientele with the general population in Quebec and in Canada on the association between food insufficiency and health. "Ibis study is a secondary data analysis of the 1998-1999 Quebec Survey of the clientele of services for homeless people conducted in Montreal and Quebec City. A representative sample of the daily adult population frequenting shelters, soup kitchens and drop-in centres for homeless people-in these cities had been selected according to a complex survey design between December 1998 and August 1999. 458 respondents were interviewed. The questionnaire, administrated in a face-to-face interview, comprised over one hundred standardized questions covering many aspects of the respondents' demographic, social, cultural and economics, and lifestyle behaviour as well as their mental and physical health status. For the comparison with the general population in Quebec and in Canada, data file of the cycle 2 1996-1997 National Population Health Survey was used. This particular survey was chosen because it included a similar question on food insufficiency and it was reasonably close in time. The results of this study highlight that food insufficiency is statistically associated with poorer mental and physical health in currently or formerly homeless persons. The effects of food insufficiency on their health would be even greater than that observed in the general population. They also highlight that housing matters for food sufficiency. These results provide policy makers with a better understanding of the relationship between homelessness, food insufficiency and health so as to improve policies and programs directed to homeless persons. The potential role of food security in promoting better physical, mental and social health among this population should be urgently examined.

Keywords: homelessness, food insufficiency, perceived health, physical health, mental health, housing, Canada

Resume

L'etude avait pour but d'explorer la relation entre l'insuffisance alimentaire et la sante chez la clientele des ressources pour personnes itinerantes, puis de comparer cette association avec celle chez la population generale du Quebec et du Canada. Cette etude est une analyse des resultats de l'Enquete aupres de la clientele des ressources pour personnes itineranantes des regions de Montreal-Centre et de Quebec en 1998-1999. Un echantillon representatif de l'ensemble de la clientele journaliere frequentant les centres d'hebergement, les soupes populaires et les centres de jour recevant des personnes itinerantes dans ces regions ont ete selectionnes selon un plan de sondage complexe entre decembre 1998 et aout 1999. Quatre cent cinquante-huit personnes ont ete interviewees. Le questionnaire d'enquete comprenait plus de cent questions standardisees couvrant plusieurs aspects d'ordre demographique, social, culturel, economique et comportemental, de meme en lien avec la sante physique et mentale. Les donnees de l'Enquete nationale de la sante des populations 1996-1997, cycle 2, ont ete utilisees aux fins de comparaison avec la population generale du Quebec et du Canada. La periode couverte par cette enquete et l'inclusion d'une question similaire sur l'insuffisance alimentaire rendaient ce choix raisonnable. Les resultats de notre etude demontrent que l'insuffisance alimentaire est statistiquement associee avec un etat de sante mental et physique plus pauvre chez les personnes sans abri au moment de l'etude ou ayant deja ete sans abri. Les effets de l'insuffisance sur leur sante seraient meme plus grands que ceux observes chez la population generale. Les resultats montrent que le fait d'avoir un logement importe. Ces resultats offrent une lecture des relations entre l'itinerance, l'insuffisance alimentaire et la sante qui peut eclairer les decideurs politiques et leur permette d'ameliorer les politiques et programmes ayant trait aux populations itinerantes. …

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