Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Jennifer Oliphant


Abstract Food insecurity (FI) and depression among older populations in the United States are public health concerns. Although FI has declined in the United States, it is a psychosocial stressor prevalent among the growing population of adults over 60. It is unknown to what extent FI contributes to depression among racial/ethnic minorities in this population. The purpose of this quantitative cross-sectional study was to examine the relationships between FI and race and depression among U.S. adults aged 60–69 years when adjusting for other variables. The social-ecological model was used to understand the interplay between individual and environmental factors that may contribute to FI and depression among older adults. Data from the 2015–2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data sets were analyzed by performing descriptive and inferential statistical procedures. The results indicated that race and FI were statistically significant predictors of depression. Chi-square tests of independence resulted in significant relationships between race (p = .007), marital status (p = .006), income (p ˂ .001), FI (p < .001), and the dependent variable depression. The overall logistic regression model was statistically significant, χ 2 (15) = 64.76, p < .001. Individuals identified as non-Hispanic White and FI were more likely to be depressed (Wald = 17.45, p < .001, OR = 3.96) than those who identified as food-secure White and food-secure Black. The social change implications may include improving mental health and quality of life for older adults in targeted communities by tailoring public health messaging and communication strategies to vulnerable communities where health and racial disparities are prevalent.