Institute on Disability

Food insecurity among young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities: Evidence from the National Health Interview Survey

Debra L. Brucker, University of New Hampshire, Durham
Derek Nord, University of Minnesota


People with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) face higher levels of poverty than others, which can lead to concerns regarding areas of well-being, such as food security. Young adults with IDD who are, in many cases, transitioning from the system of educational, health care, and income supports of their youth into the adult world may be particularly vulnerable. Using pooled data from the 2011–2014 National Health Interview Survey, we find that young adults with IDD have significantly higher levels of food insecurity than young adults without disabilities, even when controlling for poverty. Young adults with IDD who are living in low-income households are not significantly more likely to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) than young adults without disabilities who are also living in low-income households. Although our results suggest that SNAP is effectively reaching many young adults with IDD in need of nutrition assistance, further research is needed to determine the specific effects of food insecurity and SNAP participation on overall economic and health outcomes for this population.