Food insecurity among adults residing in disadvantaged urban areas: potential health and dietary consequences

Public Health Nutr. 2012 Feb;15(2):227-37. doi: 10.1017/S1368980011001996. Epub 2011 Sep 7.


Objective: Food insecurity is the limited or uncertain availability or access to nutritionally adequate, culturally appropriate and safe foods. Food insecurity may result in inadequate dietary intakes, overweight or obesity and the development of chronic disease. Internationally, few studies have focused on the range of potential health outcomes related to food insecurity among adults residing in disadvantaged locations and no such Australian studies exist. The objective of the present study was to investigate associations between food insecurity, sociodemographic and health factors and dietary intakes among adults residing in disadvantaged urban areas.

Design: Data were collected by mail survey (n 505, 53 % response rate), which ascertained information about food security status, demographic characteristics (such as age, gender, household income, education) fruit and vegetable intakes, takeaway and meat consumption, general health, depression and chronic disease.

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

Subjects: Individuals aged ≥ 20 years.

Results: Approximately one in four households (25 %) was food insecure. Food insecurity was associated with lower household income, poorer general health, increased health-care utilisation and depression. These associations remained after adjustment for age, gender and household income.

Conclusions: Food insecurity is prevalent in urbanised disadvantaged areas in developed countries such as Australia. Low-income households are at high risk of experiencing food insecurity. Food insecurity may result in significant health burdens among the population, and this may be concentrated in socio-economically disadvantaged suburbs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Hunger
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Poverty*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Vulnerable Populations / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult