An investigation into the prevalence and people’s experience of ‘food poverty’ within a region of Northern Ireland: Secondary analysis of local authority data

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Purpose: Food poverty (lack of access to an adequate quantity and quality of nutritionally satisfactory food) is becoming recognised as a public health emergency. No research study in Northern Ireland (NI) has considered food purchasing habits with social exclusion. Amidst calls for the routine collection and analysis of data to determine the extent of food poverty, this study investigates the existence and experience of food poverty in a local authority area, seeking to determine the affordability, accessibility and nutritional adequacy of food, and the social impacts of food poverty. Additionally, data were analysed to understand the possibility of categorising respondents by their reported affordability of various products/services. Methods: A household questionnaire was administered within a region of NI measuring the affordability and accessibility of food, and the social impacts of food poverty. Completed surveys (N=362) were analysed (SPSS and MPlus). Additionally, Latent Class Analysis (LCA) was used as a person-centred approach to identify a possible number of distinct groups within the sample data.Results/findings: Findings indicated that food affordability and accessibility proved important points of concern. Two in five (41%) respondents reported being unable to always comfortably feed themselves and their families three meals per day, and three in ten (31%) reported being forced to make a choice between food and other essentials. More than half (54%) reported some anxiety about whether their budget would fulfil their food needs. Almost half (46%) reported concern about the food they eat: 56% were wary that their diets were not healthy; 20% worried about poor diet quality; and 16% lamented the lack of variety. An important minority (13% – 40%) cited their inability to afford social activities that peers may take for granted. LCA analysed seven measures of affordability compared against a distal outcome of missing meals. A three-class solution was reported: Afforders (least likely to miss a meal) (58.38%); Budgeters (25.14%); and Non-Afforders (more likely to miss a meal) (16.48%). Conclusions: Policy makers and practitioners should consider these perspectives in devising evidence-informed and meaningfully-targeted interventions, while efforts must be ongoing to address the structural causes of food poverty for a truly sustainable solution.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherInternational Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Number of pages1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Feb 2017
EventISBNPA 2017 Annual Meeting - Victoria, Canada
Duration: 22 Feb 2017 → …


ConferenceISBNPA 2017 Annual Meeting
Period22/02/17 → …

Bibliographical note

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  • Deprivation
  • food poverty
  • latent class analysis
  • poverty
  • social exclusion


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