Academic journal

Five new facts about the COVID-19 pandemic’

image: A new study found that food insecurity among older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with lower social and mental well-being and reduced internet access.
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Credit: Nathan Chiang and Sarah Ullevig, University of Texas at San Antonio

Rockville, Maryland (June 14, 2022) — The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people at all stages of life, from the elderly to newborns. New studies presented at NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE examine the causes and effects of food insecurity related to COVID-19, how the pandemic has affected breastfeeding practices and more.

Internet access and food security in the elderly

In a new study, researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio sought to uncover how technology use and access are related to food security among at-risk, independently living older adults during the COVID-19. Researchers analyzed survey results from 557 seniors who attended congregate dining sites in November 2020. Forty-two percent of respondents indicated that they experienced food insecurity during the survey period. The analysis found that food insecurity among older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with lower social and mental well-being and reduced internet access. These findings suggest that access to technology should be considered when developing interventions to address food insecurity in older adults.

Nathan Chiang will present this on-demand research beginning at noon on Tuesday, June 14, during NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE (abstract; presentation details). Picture available.

Breastfeeding experiences during stay-at-home orders

Investigators from Saint Louis University explored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the role of mothers and breastfeeding practices in the United States. Mothers of a child 12 months or younger were asked via an online survey if they thought their breastfeeding habits would have been different without the pandemic and to answer an open-ended question asking how the pandemic has changed or impacted plans to feed their baby. Of the 1,861 mothers who responded to the survey in July or August 2020, a third believed the pandemic had impacted their breastfeeding habits. The survey results revealed that some mothers found the extra time spent at home made it easier to bond between them and their baby, leading to longer breastfeeding than expected. However, many mothers reported that the COVID-19 pandemic was stressful, and in some cases mothers reported low milk supply due to stress.

Haley N. Pucel will present this on-demand research beginning at noon on Tuesday, June 14, during NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE (abstract; presentation details). Picture available.

Giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic

Researchers at Louisiana State University assessed breastfeeding anxiety, confusion, and self-efficacy — a mother’s perception of her ability to breastfeed — in mothers who gave birth during the COVID-19 pandemic. 19. The study included 180 mothers in 44 states and four US territories recruited through social media advertisements to complete a 78-item online survey between May and December 2020 and again at 6 weeks postpartum. At 6 weeks postpartum, just over 95% were either exclusively breastfed or breastfed. The researchers found that the mothers in the study were able to maintain planned infant feeding decisions and maintained high breastfeeding self-efficacy despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. They say the growing availability of the COVID-19 vaccine may have helped ease new mothers’ anxiety.

Erin M. McKinley will present this on-demand research beginning at noon on Tuesday, June 14, during NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE (abstract; presentation details). Picture available.

Food insecurity and distress around diabetes management

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analyzed associations between food insecurity and diabetes distress related to COVID-19 in adults with prediabetes or diabetes. The study was based on a national online survey administered to low-income adults in June 2020. Diabetes-related distress was measured by assessing emotional burden, physician-related distress, self-management distress, and interpersonal distress. During the pandemic, about 16% of respondents showed moderate diabetes-related distress and about 26% felt high distress. Food-insecure adults were more likely to report high or moderate diabetes-related distress than those who were food secure. Based on these findings, the researchers say healthcare providers should screen for diabetes-related distress and connect patients with resources to help them manage their dietary and mental health needs.

Hannah Posluszny will present this on-demand research beginning at noon on Tuesday, June 14, during NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE (abstract; presentation details).

Vitamin A levels in hospitalized COVID-19 patients

Vitamin A plays a key role in regulating the immune system, developing lung tissue and repairing infection-related damage. To better understand its potential role in COVID-19, researchers at Muenster University Hospital compared blood plasma levels of vitamin A in critically ill and recovering COVID-19 patients. The study is one of the first to differentiate between free, unbound vitamin A, retinol-binding protein (RBP), and total vitamin A. They found that critically ill patients in the acute phase of COVID-19 had a significant decrease in total vitamin A and RBP-related levels compared to recovering patients. While these findings support previous studies that have shown vitamin A deficiency in patients with acute infections, the researchers say more work is needed to understand how this deficiency might affect COVID-19 disease progression.

Richard Vollenberg will present this on-demand research beginning at noon on Tuesday, June 14, during NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE (abstract; presentation details).

Watch on-demand sessions, view posters and more by signing up for a free pass to attend the virtual meeting.

Please note that abstracts presented at NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE have been assessed and selected by an expert committee but have generally not undergone the same peer review process required for publication in a scientific journal. As such, the results presented should be considered preliminary until a peer-reviewed publication becomes available.

About NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE

NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE is part of a new year-round experience with ASN’s flagship annual meeting to be held virtually June 14-16, 2022, as well as learning and networking opportunities to be offered throughout year round. The Annual Online Meeting is a dynamic virtual event showcasing new research findings and timely discussions on food and nutrition. Scientific symposia explore hot topics including clinical and translational nutrition, food science and systems, global and public health, population science, and cellular and physiological nutrition and metabolism. https://nutrition.org/nutrition-2022/ #NutritionLiveOnline

About the American Nutrition Society (ASN)

ASN is the preeminent professional organization for nutrition scientists and clinicians worldwide. Founded in 1928, the society brings together top nutrition researchers, physicians, policy makers and industry leaders to advance our knowledge and application of nutrition. ASN publishes four peer-reviewed journals and provides education and professional development opportunities to advance nutrition research, practice and education. http://www.nutrition.org/

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