Looks like all weeks aren't equal for low-income Americans with diabetes. At the end of each month, diabetic people considered low-income and significantly more likely to be taken to hospital suffering from hypoglycemia, according to a new study published Monday in Health Affairs. The researchers found that that food budgets tend to be tighter at the end of the month than beginning.
The study found that hospital admissions for patients suffering from hypoglycemia were 27 percent higher at the end of the month than at the month's outset. Though the researchers noted that they couldn't prove the patients' economic circumstances were the reason they'd been admitted, the two elements were "highly correlated."
In comparison, no increase in hospitalizations amongst individuals with higher incomes were found. Scientists from the University of California, San Francisco compared more than two million hospital-discharge records over a period of eight years from various area codes. Researchers focused on patients who are admitted with symptoms of hypoglycemia, and those who lived in a household earning below $31,000 were counted as low-income.
The study comes out as Congress gears up to debate a new Farm Bill, which includes food stamp benefits and unemployment insurance.
Dr. Hilary Segliman, lead author of the study, said she's very much aware of the debate in Congress and was keen to document the affects of food budget constraints. Past studies have suggested that people prioritized their budget around other needs before food.
“People who work minimum wage jobs or live on benefits often have this typical pay cycle pattern," Segliman said. "We wanted to examine whether there were adverse health consequences to running out of money at the end of the month.”
The study highlights how low-income individuals have become a focal point of debates happening in Congress: The Obama administration has made it a point to push an extension of unemployment insurance.
The main point of contention with the farm bill is the SNAP benefits program. A few months ago, House Republicans pushed to cut a huge chunk of funding from the program — $39 billion over 10 years. Ultimately, Senate passed a less severe option in which $4.5 billion would be cut over 10 years.
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