Women Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence More Likely to Be Depressed and Food Insecure

First Posted: Oct 26, 2013 07:21 AM EDT

Women, who experience physical, mental or sexual abuse at the hands of their partners, are more likely to suffer from food insecurity, suggests a new finding.

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Houston Texas Obesity Research Center (TORC) highlights depression as a key associate between intimate partner violence and food insecurity.

"The bridge between the two issues is depression," assistant professor and TORC researcher Daphne Hernandez, said in a statement. "Our study found that women experiencing intimate partner violence are more likely to be depressed, which impacts their ability to ensure a food-secure household."

Food insecurity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Core Food Security Module , reflects portion control, rationing and inability to feed families with balanced meals.

For this study, researchers analyzed the data of nearly 1,700 women who had been in a romantic relationship (either married or cohabiting with a partner) who had experienced intimate partner violence (like physical, mental or sexual). The researcher Hernandez noticed that the mothers who suffered intimate partner violence were nearly 44 percent more likely to suffer depression. Also the households in which mothers experienced depression were two times more likely to experience food insecurity.

According to the study, depression may impact the mother's motivation to get and prepare food due to the fall in their appetite. Apart from this, the mother's feeling of helplessness that is caused due to the violence may challenge them to use the correct support.

The article "Maternal Depression Mediates the Association Between Intimate Partner Violence and Food Insecurity", studies the impact of family dynamics of nutrition, obesity and overall health. The main aim of the study was to enhance the understanding of how family environment and women health impact the overall lives of family with young children.

Hernandez concludes, "What this means is that targeting issues central to women's health must become a priority in combating food insecurity. Providing mental health screenings at the time individuals apply for food assistance may help identify women who need interventions to keep them safe, mental healthy and food secure."

The findings were published in the Journal of Women's Health.

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