Prevalence, Determinants, and Effects of Food Insecurity among Middle Eastern and North African Migrants and Refugees in High-Income Countries: A Systematic Review

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Oct 4;17(19):7262. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17197262.


Issues related to poverty and income inequality in high-income countries have led to food insecurity among some population groups, such as migrants and refugees. While there are some studies on the experience of some migrant groups (and other subpopulations), little is known about food security among Middle Eastern and African migrants and refugees. This systematic review identified the prevalence of food insecurity and its effects among Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) migrants and refugees in high-income countries. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were followed in this systematic review. Four databases, namely MEDLINE (Ovid), Embase (Ovid), CINAHL (EBSCO), and PubMed were searched. Three studies met the inclusion criteria, all of which were conducted in USA: two among Sudanese migrant families, and one among Somali refugee women. The rates of reported food insecurity ranged from 40% to 71% and were significantly higher than for the general population. Food insecurity was associated with acculturation and socio-economic factors. Food insecurity adversely impacts the health of MENA migrants and refugees, creating economic implications for individuals, families, the broader community in which they now live, and for governments.

Keywords: MENA; Middle Eastern; North African; food insecurity; food security; migrants; refugees.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Africa, Northern
  • Female
  • Food Insecurity*
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Hunger / ethnology
  • Income
  • Middle East
  • Obesity
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Refugees*
  • Transients and Migrants