Canadians who cannot afford regular meals are more likely to die early, according to a study released this week, showing that people are dying from hunger even in wealthy countries like Canada.
The study of more than half a million Canadian adults found that hunger was linked to raised mortality from all causes of death except cancer.
But infectious diseases, unintentional injuries and suicide were twice as likely to kill those who faced severe problems finding enough food as those who do not, said the paper, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
"It's like we found third-world causes in a first-world country," lead author Fei Men, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, said. "Food insecure people in Canada are facing problems like infections and drug poisoning that we would expect people from developing countries to be facing.
"The results are pretty striking to us as well. In the developed world such as Canada, food insecurity can still cause deaths.”
More than 4 million people in Canada struggle to get enough to eat out of a population of 37 million, which means roughly 11 percent are malnourished. Official data shows this problem ranges from running out of food or skipping meals to compromising on quantity and quality.
Not having enough to eat leads to both "material deprivation and psychological distress" which in turn results in chronic inflammation and malnutrition, it said.
They are also less able to manage chronic conditions, Men said, such as diabetes, where “they are more likely to not adhere to their treatment and drugs so it might have much bigger and harmful effect on them."