Household Food Insecurity

This project on household food insecurity (having insufficient or insecure access to food due to resource constraints) and its effect on mental and physical health is building on previous N8 Agrifood-funded work which identified that food insecurity, and the stress that this generates, biases people’s decisions towards cheap convenient foods.

Household food insecurity affects 8.4 million people in the UK to some degree and is a major public health concern. For many households, food budgets are insufficient to meet government recommendations for a healthy diet. The wider food environment also plays a key role, with ‘food deserts’ (areas which are poorly served by food stores selling fresh, healthy products) being particularly prevalent in deprived areas of Liverpool.

Food insecurity is associated with obesity and poorer mental health - depression and obesity are highly associated, and psychological stress makes it harder to control our food intake. This project will survey 500 adult participants in areas of high, medium and low deprivation in Liverpool, to investigate exactly how household food insecurity influences eating and obesity.

The data generated from this project, as well as being of value in their own right, will support a more substantial grant application which will focus on the development of better measurement tools. Understanding the psychological drivers of food intake will also facilitate tailored interventions and preventive approaches in food-insecure communities.

The project will also establish a new collaboration with leading international experts on food insecurity and obesity at Newcastle University.

For more information contact Dr Charlotte Hardman

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