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A 5-year review of prevalence, temporal trends and characteristics of individuals experiencing moderate and severe food insecurity in 34 high income countries

  • Gatton, Michelle L
  • Gallegos, Danielle
Publication Date
Nov 09, 2023
Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive


<p>Background: Due to the relatively low numbers of households in high income countries experiencing food insecurity most studies conflate the levels of severity, which masks between- and within-country differences. This study aims to describe the characteristics of individuals living in high income countries who were moderately or severely food insecure and investigates temporal trends in prevalence. It assesses these characteristics in comparison to those who were food secure. Methods: This is a secondary analysis of data collected by the FAO Voices of the Hungry between 2014–2018. The data were collected during the annual Gallup World Polls of nationally representative samples using the Food Insecurity Experience Scale. Data from 34 highly developed, wealthy countries were analysed. The age, gender, income, education, area of residence and household structure of individuals experiencing moderate/severe food insecurity (FI), and severe FI, were compared using ANOVA, Welch’s F, Pearson’s Chi-square, and Linear-by-Linear Association, dependent on the variable of interest. Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to group countries according to their prevalence of moderate/severe FI, and severe FI. Results: Overall, 6.5% of the weighted sample were moderately/severely food insecure (M-SFI), while 1.6% were severely food insecure. M-SFI individuals were present in all 34 countries, in all years and across all education levels and income quintiles. The proportion of individuals experiencing moderate/severe FI varied between years and countries. Fifteen countries showed a significant downward temporal trend in prevalence of moderate/severe FI (p < 0.001), while three countries demonstrated an increasing temporal trend driven by increasing prevalence in those aged 65 years or less (p < 0.001). Comparing individuals experiencing moderate versus severe FI showed over-representation of males, single adult households and lower household income in the severe FI group. Conclusions: Individuals across all income, education and age categories living in high income countries are experiencing moderate/severe food insecurity, but with higher prevalence in those experiencing more disadvantage. Over the study period some countries experienced escalating while others demonstrated decreasing moderate/severe FI trends. This comparison of countries with similar economic and human development indices highlights an opportunity to investigate subtle variations in social, economic and education policy that could have profound impacts on food insecurity.</p>

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