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Current measure of food insecurity used in the National Health Survey may be underestimating its prevalence

Ramsey, Rebecca, Giskes, Katrina , Gallegos, Danielle, & Turrell, Gavin (2011) Current measure of food insecurity used in the National Health Survey may be underestimating its prevalence. In 2nd National Food Futures Conference, 22 - 23 November 2011, Hobart, TAS. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Objective: Food insecurity may be associated with a number of adverse health and social outcomes however our knowledge of its public health significance in Australia has been limited by use of a single-item measure in the Australian National Health Surveys (NHS) and, more recently, the exclusion of food security items from these surveys. The current study compares prevalence estimates of food insecurity in disadvantaged urban areas of Brisbane using the one-item NHS measure with three adaptations of the United States Department of Agriculture Food Security Survey Module (USDA-FSSM).

Design: Data were collected by postal survey (n= 505, 53% response). Food security status was ascertained by the measure used in the NHS, and the 6-, 10- and 18-item versions of the USDA-FSSM. Demographic characteristics of the sample, prevalence estimates of food insecurity and different levels of food insecurity estimated by each tool were determined.

Setting: Disadvantaged suburbs of Brisbane city, Australia, 2009.

Subjects: Individuals aged ≥ 18 years.

Results: Food insecurity was prevalent in socioeconomically-disadvantaged urban areas, estimated as 19.5% using the single-item NHS measure. This was significantly less than the 24.6% (P <0.01), 22.0% (P = 0.01) and 21.3% (P = 0.03) identified using the 18-item, 10-item and 6-item versions of the USDA-FSSM, respectively. The proportion of the sample reporting more severe levels of food insecurity were 10.7%, 10% and 8.6% for the 18-, 10- and 6-item USDA measures respectively, however this degree of food insecurity could not be ascertained using the NHS measure.

Conclusions: The measure of food insecurity employed in the NHS may underestimate its prevalence and public health significance. Future monitoring and surveillance efforts should seek to employ a more accurate measure.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 55253
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Keywords: Food security, Food insecurity, Measurement
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NUTRITION AND DIETETICS (111100) > Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified (111199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Epidemiology (111706)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Deposited On: 04 Dec 2012 07:42
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2012 07:42

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