(HealthDay News) – Low-income patients who have food insecurity may be particularly receptive to diabetes self-management support, according to a study published in the June issue of Diabetes Care.

Courtney R. Lyles, PhD, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues studied food insecurity in 665 low-income patients with diabetes, all of whom received self-management support as part of a larger diabetes educational intervention. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Security module was used to measure baseline food insecurity. Self-reported diabetes self-efficacy and daily fruit and vegetable intake were also assessed.

The researchers found that more than half (57%) of the sample had an annual income <$15,000. Food insecurity was seen in one-third of participants and they tended to be younger, had less income, and were more likely to be unemployed, compared with participants who were food secure. There were significantly higher mean hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) values (8.4% vs. 8%) and lower self-efficacy and fruit and vegetable intake among the food-insecure compared to the food-secure individuals at baseline. There were significantly greater improvements in HbA1c over time among the food-insecure compared to the food-secure participants, but there was no significant difference in HbA1c by food security status at follow-up.

“Participants experiencing food insecurity had poorer diabetes-related measures at baseline but made significant improvements in HbA1c and self-efficacy,” the authors write.

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