Earlier this month, we were pleased to release Challenges to healthy eating: food insecurity in Victoria. The report is based on findings from the 2014 Victorian Population Health Survey. This is the first time that such in-depth population-representative research on food insecurity and its determinants has been undertaken in Victoria.
Food insecurity is deemed to exist whenever ‘the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or the ability to acquire acceptable food in socially acceptable ways is limited or uncertain’ (Radimer and Radimer 2002).
Food insecurity exists along a continuum. In its most severe form, people go without food. In less severe forms, people worry about running out of money to buy food and use coping strategies such as relying on unhealthy low-cost food and/or skipping meals to avoid going without food.
Key findings of the report:
- Around 1.8 million adults in Victoria aged 18 years or older were food insecure on at least one occasion in the 12 months prior to the survey, by at least one measure of food insecurity.
- More than one in three Victorian adults who are obese experienced food insecurity – a well-documented phenomenon referred to as the food insecurity–obesity paradox, believed to be partly due to an over-reliance on unhealthy low-cost food.
- Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, adults who were unable to work, single parents, the unemployed and households with total annual household incomes of less than $40,000 were more likely to experience food insecurity.
Food insecurity is a complex problem requiring government, industry, health, education and community sectors working together to create innovative and practical solutions. This report aims to increase understanding of the factors that drive unhealthy eating and food insecurity and inspire the development of strategies to address challenges faced by many Victorians.
For more information, please contact Alison Markwick, Health Intelligence Unit, via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alison will be speaking about VAHI’s report at a symposium on 16 October, hosted by the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Health Policy. Find out more.