Associations between Hunger and Mental Health among Adolescents in Bangladeshi Slums Amid COVID-19


  • SM Taslima Yasmin ASEAN Institute for Health Development, Mahidol University, Nakhon Pathom, 73170, Thailand. Email:
  • SM Taniya Yasmin ASEAN Institute for Health Development, Mahidol University, Nakhon Pathom, 73170, Thailand. Email:
  • Seo Ah Hong ASEAN Institute for Health Development, Mahidol University, Nakhon Pathom, 73170, Thailand. Email:
  • Sarah Sultan Social and Economic Enhancement Program, Mirpur, Pallabi, 1216 Dhaka, Bangladesh. Emial:


Hunger, Food insecurity, Covid-19, Mental health, Poverty, Adolescents


Objective: Identify the prevalence of hunger, anxiety, and depression, while also exploring the association between hunger, sociodemographic factors, and the presence of anxiety and depression among adolescents in Dhaka's urban slums during the Covid-19 pandemic

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted during April to May 2022 among 324 adolescents living in slums in Dhaka division, Bangladesh. Data collection was done onsite using a structured questionnaire. Anxiety and depression were assessed using pre-validated and reliable Bangla translated versions of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7) scale and Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Hunger was measured using the Household Hunger Scale (HHS). Binary logistic regression was used to find associations.

Results: 61.7% of the adolescents suffered from moderate – severe hunger. The prevalence of moderate to severe levels of anxiety and depression were high at 46.3% and 63.3% respectively. In logistic regression, hunger showed significant association with both anxiety (AOR= 2.345, 95% CI= 1.474- 3.731) and depression (AOR= 1.852, 95% CI= 1.166- 2.941). Additionally, early adolescence was associated with anxiety, and adolescents who were school going and lived in a household with >5 family members had more likelihood of both anxiety and depression.

Conclusion: Hunger during the Covid-19 pandemic was associated with increased risk of anxiety and depression. In crisis situations, public health measures should ensure that poor communities have access to at least basic meals to minimize impact on mental health of adolescents. Apart from this, they should also focus on living situations in slums and enhance their efforts in the national school feeding program.


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