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Food Access, Food Insecurity, and Gun Violence: Examining a Complex Relationship

Abstract

Purpose of Review

Food insecurity and gun violence are timely and relevant public health issues impacting many regions within the USA with a potential association. Terminology surrounding food access and food security can be confusing, which is important to understand when examining the relationship between these issues and gun violence.

Recent Findings

Food insecurity is an individual level risk factor that appears to correlate with an increased rate of exposure and future involvement in violence. Food deserts represent geographic regions with limited access to food but do not necessarily represent regions with high prevalence of food insecurity. Although both food insecurity and food deserts in urban regions have been linked with increased incidence of gun violence, a high prevalence of food insecurity was found to be more predictive.

Summary

A high prevalence of food insecurity in urban regions likely serves as a marker for socioeconomic disadvantage and intentional disinvestment. These regions are predictably associated with a higher incidence of interpersonal gun violence. Food deserts in rural areas have not, to date, been shown to correlate with interpersonal gun violence. Urban food insecurity and gun violence are both likely the byproduct of structural violence. Despite the significant overlap and similar contributors, the application of the public health framework in addressing these two issues has historically been quite different.

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Miller, K.R., Jones, C.M., McClave, S.A. et al. Food Access, Food Insecurity, and Gun Violence: Examining a Complex Relationship. Curr Nutr Rep 10, 317–323 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13668-021-00378-w

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Keywords

  • Food access
  • Food insecurity
  • Gun violence
  • Structural violence