Comparing Food Insecurity Prevalence Using Existing Indicators

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Background: Food insecurity – inability to afford or access enough food in socially acceptable ways – was afforded the highest priority by the global community by committing to achieve a hunger-free world by 2030. With much to be done before the Zero Hunger Sustainable Development Goal is achieved, progress is complicated by the multiple approaches that exist to measure food insecurity. Without an agreed indicator, its prevalence remains unknown. This study aimed to investigate inter-reliability of three existing food insecurity indicators to support (inter)national efforts for its measurement. Methodology: An online survey, supplemented with paper surveys (September-November 2018) measured food insecurity experiences using three existing indicators (EU Survey on Income and Living Condition’s; FAO’s Food Insecurity Experience Scale; and USDA’s Household Food Security Survey Module). Ethical approval was granted, and informed consent sought. Results: There were 944 respondents. Most (78.7%) were full/part time or self-employed and one in twelve (8%) had a total household income <£10,000. One in three (34.4% and 35.7%) experienced at least one measure of food deprivation using the EU-SILC and FIES indicators respectively, while one in five (21.1%) reported experiencing at least one food insecurity symptom concerned with worry about running out of food or not eating enough (HFSSM). Discussion: This research compared agreement between various food insecurity scales. Between one in five and one in three people in Northern Ireland reported experiencing at least one symptom of food insecurity, with good agreement between the indicators as each scale identified (generally) the same people within each classification for food insecurity. Its appropriate measurement is critical for informing cross-sectoral government policy. These data highlight the merits of various food insecurity scales in advance of the UK government reporting on its prevalence (April 2021). However, the measurement of food poverty should be supported with parallel action to achieve Zero Hunger.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 23 Jun 2020
EventThe 2nd UK Research Conference on Food and Poverty: Evidence for Change - Online
Duration: 23 Jun 202024 Jun 2020


ConferenceThe 2nd UK Research Conference on Food and Poverty: Evidence for Change
Internet address


  • Food poverty
  • Food insecurity
  • Measurement


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