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Food Insecurity and Mental Wellbeing: What Role Does Culture Play in Explaining the Association?

March 26, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

The Carolina Population Center’s 2020-21 Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series will host Craig Hadley, Winship Distinguished Research Professor at Emory University, who will present “Food insecurity and mental wellbeing: What role does culture play in explaining the association?”

Uncertain access to food, or food insecurity, plagues low-income households around the world and is especially prevalent and persistent in the Global South. Scores of studies have shown that food insecurity is consistently and robustly associated with poorer mental health. Scholars from public health nutrition and the social sciences have pitched two broad explanations for this association. One set of explanations links food insecurity to poor dietary quality which is posited to erode mental health.  The second set of explanations focuses on the social and cultural aspect of foods and suggests that food insecurity disallows individuals from achieving normative consumption behaviors, which leads to stress and poor mental wellbeing. In this talk, I discuss a project from Ethiopia and Brazil that attempts to tease apart these competing explanations and outline some of the challenges inherent in doing so. I conclude by offering some thoughts on how to meaningfully integrate culture into studies of health and wellbeing.

Craig Hadley is Professor of Anthropology at Emory University with research interests that center around the social and cultural production of health. He has worked in Tanzania and Ethiopia for two decades with a focus on carrying out mixed methods studies that explore the social determinants of health. He is increasingly interested in the ways in which the meaning people attribute to feelings, objects, and events impact their wellbeing.




March 26, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Carolina Population Center
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