Background. Food insecurity (FI), diabetes prevalence, and poor diabetes outcomes all disproportionately affect Latinos in the U.S. Heart rate variability (HRV) is reflects autonomic tone and is associated with glycemic control and predicts mortality in type 2 diabetes. It is unknown whether food insecurity is related to HRV and, if so, whether glycemic control accounts for this association. Objective. This exploratory, cross-sectional study examined FI and HRV among U.S. Latinos with type 2 diabetes. Methods. Participants reported demographics, socioeconomic status, and FI including the 6-item USDA food security module and a one-item measure of diabetes-specific food security. Participants wore an ambulatory electrocardiogram monitor for 24 hours. In the time domain, HRV was assessed with the standard deviation of the R-R interval (SDNN). In the frequency domain, the power spectrum was integrated over three frequency bands-very low frequency (VLF), low frequency (LF), and high frequency (HF), and then natural log transformed. Unadjusted ANOVA and ANCOVA adjusting for age, gender, A1c, and indicators of socioeconomic status compared food security groups on HRV. Results. Participant mean age was 59.7 (SD=10.9) years and 73% were women. Of the n=94 participants, 63 reported FI according to the USDA food security module and 46 reported FI according to the diabetes-specific measure. Mean A1c was 8.6% (SD=1.7) and was marginally higher among those reporting diabetes-specific FI than those reporting diabetes-specific food security. Participants who reported diabetes-specific FI had lower SDNN, VLF, LF, and HF HRV with effect sizes in the small-to-medium range. Differences remained significant even after controlling for age, gender, socioeconomic hardship, and A1c. The 6-item USDA food security module was not associated with HRV. Conclusions. Diabetes-specific FI may be a unique risk factor for poor health outcomes among U.S. Latinos. Efforts to address FI could benefit diabetes outcomes.
- Received January 31, 2017.
- Revision received April 5, 2017.
- Accepted April 16, 2017.
- Copyright © 2017, The Authors.
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