Investigating food insecurity measurement globally to inform practice locally: a rapid evidence review

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The objective of this review was to examine the methods used to measure food insecurity (FI) globally, to inform considerations relating to adopting a novel, or reviewing an existing, FI measurement approach in developed countries. Considerations for measurement are examined with particular applicability to the United Kingdom (UK) which has recently announced adoption of the US Household Food Security Survey Module (HFSSM) as an indicator to facilitate annual FI monitoring. This study uses a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) methodological approach to systematically review the literature on FI measurement and considers: geographical jurisdiction, methodological approach, sampling strategy, FI indicator(s) used, and implications for measurement. Results found that the majority of papers reviewed emanate from North America with the US Household Food Security Scale Module (HFSSM) and its various adapted forms being the most commonly reported indicator. FI is becoming a key concern within developed countries with a range of indicators being used to report on the severity of the issue. This paper provides a contribution to knowledge by: (i) identifying various approaches to FI measurement and commonalities of existing measurement approaches; (ii) providing a summation of the methodologies and findings of studies relating to FI measurement, and associated implications for measurement, (iii) providing a justification evidenced by the literature for the adoption of the HFSSM in the UK; and (iv) assessing the methodological usefulness of a REA review. Understanding the components of robust FI indicators and their effectiveness can help inform existing and novel measurement approaches to ensure that data collected on FI are meaningful and thereby useful to inform future policy work in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3319-3339
Number of pages21
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Issue number20
Early online date6 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished online - 6 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

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© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Food insecurity
  • food poverty
  • inequality
  • measurement
  • rapid review
  • Food Science
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • General Medicine


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