Food insecurity has emerged as an important, and potentially modifiable, risk factor for depression. Few studies have brought longitudinal data to bear on investigating this association in sub-Saharan Africa.

The objective of this research was to estimate the association between food insufficiency and depression symptom severity, and to determine the extent to which any observed associations were modified by social support. The research team conducted a secondary analysis of population-based, longitudinal data collected from 1238 pregnant women during a three-year cluster-randomized trial of a home visiting intervention in Cape Town, South Africa – Philani Mentor Mothers. Surveys were conducted at baseline, 6 months, 18 months, and 36 months (85% retention). A validated, single-item food insufficiency measure inquired about the number of days of hunger in the past week. Depression symptom severity was measured using the Xhosa version of the 10-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.

Authors: Alexander C. Tsai (Massachusetts General Hospital, MGH Global Health, Boston, USA), Mark Tomlinson, PhD, (Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University, Matieland, Stellenbosch, South Africa), W Scott Comulada (Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California at Los Angeles, LosAngeles, USA),  Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, PhD (Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute, University of California at Los Angeles)

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