Food insecurity among African Americans in the United States: A scoping review

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Dennard E, Kristjansson E, Tchangalova N, Totton S, Winham D, O’Connor A (2022) Food insecurity among African Americans in the United States: A scoping review. PLoS ONE 17(9): e0274434. pone.0274434


In 2019, the estimated prevalence of food insecurity for Black non-Hispanic households was higher than the national average due to health disparities exacerbated by forms of racial discrimination. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Black households have experienced higher rates of food insecurity when compared to other populations in the United States. The primary objectives of this review were to identify which risk factors have been investigated for an association with food insecurity, describe how food insecurity is measured across studies that have evaluated this outcome among African Americans, and determine which dimensions of food security (food accessibility, availability, and utilization) are captured by risk factors studied by authors. Food insecurity related studies were identified through a search of Google Scholar, PubMed, CINAHL Plus, MEDLINE®, PsycINFO, Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition, and Web of Science™ (Clarivate), on May 20, 2021. Eligible studies were primary research studies, with a concurrent comparison group, published in English between 1995 and 2021. Ninety-eight relevant studies were included for data charting with 37 unique measurement tools, 115 risk factors, and 93 possible consequences of food insecurity identified. Few studies examined factors linked to racial discrimination, behaviour, or risk factors that mapped to the food availability dimension of food security. Infrequently studied factors, such as lifetime racial discrimination, socioeconomic status (SES), and income insecurity need further investigation while frequently studied factors such as age, education, race/ethnicity, and gender need to be summarized using a systematic review approach so that risk factor impact can be better assessed. Risk factors linked to racial discrimination and food insecurity need to be better understood in order to minimize health disparities among African American adults during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.