Problems in Nutritional Status Among Homeless Populations: An Introduction
Nutritional status can be divided into four components: access to clean water, reliable and safe food sources, basic health care needs met, and nutritional literacy. Drawing from the beginnings of an original study and previous published studies, the problems related to each component were analyzed searching for possible policy actions that may improve the health outcomes of homeless people. The results suggest that declines in nutritional status parallel health status. Nutritional inputs are inadequate due to lack of nutrients and poor absorption from underlying disease processes and alcohol consumption, but for most individuals caloric intake is significant enough to maintain weight. Policy actions must include improving inputs (including vitamin supplements), increasing communication between providers and between clients and providers, and providing nutritional counseling in conjunction with existing case management programs that seek to better manage supplemental food expenditures.