Background: Areas with limited access to healthy, reasonably priced,
nutritious food are often referred to as food deserts. These areas are
often concentrated in lower socioeconomic neighbourhoods where
mental health disorders are most prevalent as well. Unhealthy food
choices are increasingly identified as a risk factor that promote mental
illness and impede its management. Mentally ill can be adversely
affected by this differential access to healthy food due to their lower
income, inability to travel, physical and psychological limitations for
food shopping. The objective of this study is to assess the potential
impact of food deserts on mental illness.
Methods: Published literature was reviewed in order to assess the
burden of food deserts on mental illness using databases like Scopus
Results: Inequity in food access has been reported to contribute to
disparity in eating habits and health outcomes. While food deserts
have been studied extensively in the context of obesity and diabetes,
its impact on mental illness still remains unexplored. One challenge in
this direction would be to delineate the impact due to food access from
other socioeconomic determinants affecting mental health.
Conclusions: Further research is needed to understand the impact
of food desert on mental illness.