Little is known about the relationship between food insecurity and sleep problems in low- and middle-income countries, while the mediators of this association are largely unknown. Therefore, we investigated the association between food insecurity and insomnia-related symptoms in six low- and middle-income countries (i.e., China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa), and the potential mediators of this relationship. Cross-sectional, nationally representative data from the Study on Global AGEing and Adult Health (2007–2010) were analysed. Past 12-month food insecurity was assessed with two questions on the frequency of eating less, and on hunger owing to a lack of food. Insomnia-related symptoms referred to severe or extreme sleep problems in the past 30 days. Multivariable logistic regression and mediation analysis were conducted. Data on 42,489 adults aged ≥18 years were analysed (mean [standard deviation] age 43.8 [14.4] years; 50.1% females). The prevalence of any food insecurity and insomnia-related symptoms was 11.9% and 4.4%, respectively. After adjustment, compared with no food insecurity, moderate (odds ratio = 1.53, 95% confidence interval = 1.11–2.10) and severe food insecurity (odds ratio = 2.35, 95% confidence interval = 1.56–3.55) were significantly associated with insomnia-related symptoms. Anxiety, perceived stress, and depression mediated 27.7%, 13.5%, and 12.5% of the relationship between any food insecurity and insomnia-related symptoms, respectively (total percentage = 43.3%). Food insecurity was positively associated with insomnia-related symptoms in adults from six low- and middle-income countries. Anxiety, perceived stress, and depression explained a substantial proportion of this relationship. Addressing food insecurity itself or the identified potential mediators among people with food insecurity may lead to a reduction in sleep problems among adults in low- and middle-income countries, pending confirmation with longitudinal studies.
- food insecurity
- insomnia-related symptoms
- low- and middle-income countries
- sleep problems