Household food insecurity and symptoms of neurologic disorder in Ethiopia: An observational analysis

El-Sayed, Abdulrahman M.; Hadley, Craig; Tessema, Fasil; Tegegn, Ayelew; Cowan, Jr, John A.; Galea, Sandro
January 2010
BMC Public Health;2010, Vol. 10 Issue 1, p802
Academic Journal
Background: Food insecurity (FI) has been shown to be associated with poor health both in developing and developed countries. Little is known about the relation between FI and neurological disorder. We assessed the relation between FI and risk for neurologic symptoms in southwest Ethiopia. Methods: Data about food security, gender, age, household assets, and self-reported neurologic symptoms were collected from a representative, community-based sample of adults (N = 900) in Jimma Zone, Ethiopia. We calculated univariate statistics and used bivariate chi-square tests and multivariate logistic regression models to assess the relation between FI and risk of neurologic symptoms including seizures, extremity weakness, extremity numbness, tremors/ataxia, aphasia, carpal tunnel syndrome, vision dysfunction, and spinal pain. Results: In separate multivariate models by outcome and gender, adjusting for age and household socioeconomic status, severe FI was associated with higher odds of seizures, movement abnormalities, carpal tunnel, vision dysfunction, spinal pain, and comorbid disorders among women. Severe FI was associated with higher odds of seizures, extremity numbness, movement abnormalities, difficulty speaking, carpal tunnel, vision dysfunction, and comorbid disorders among men. Conclusion: We found that FI was associated with symptoms of neurologic disorder. Given the cross-sectional nature of our study, the directionality of these associations is unclear. Future research should assess causal mechanisms relating FI to neurologic symptoms in sub-Saharan Africa.


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