People who experience food insecurity are more likely to be diagnosed with a variety of chronic conditions, and have difficulty managing those conditions, says a Toronto-based researcher.

“From many vantages it’s a stronger indicator of poor health than poverty is,” said Valerie Tarasuk, a professor with the University of Toronto’s Department of Nutritional Sciences.

According to Statistics Canada’s 2013 Canadian Community Health Survey, around 12.5 per cent of households in Ontario, or roughly 1.6 million people in the province, experience food insecurity.

“We know the single biggest determinant of household food security status is income,” Tarasuk said. “The lower the income, the greater the risk.”