Topic 3 Food Insecurity

Although certain strategies are intended to make it easier for individuals to afford healthy changes to their diets, health professionals need to be able to screen for other social barriers as well. The lack of a living wage, the persistence of food shortage in low income regions, no access to a kitchen and no funds to purchase tools are all barriers to healthy eating and should be taken into consideration when counselling individuals about strategies to adopt a healthier diet.

Make sure to screen all patients for food insecurity—a highly prevalent condition affecting 1 in 9 (820 million) around the globe. Food insecurity is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as lack of consistent access to enough food to live an active, healthy life. This is distinct from hunger—a related concept referring to an uncomfortable, physical sensation. Food insecurity refers to the lack of available financial and other resources needed for food at the household level

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Script: “I’m going to read you two statements that people have made about their food situation. For each statement, please tell me whether the statement was often true, sometimes true or never true for your household in the last 12 months.”

  1. “We worried whether our food would run out before we got money to buy more.” Was that often true, sometimes true, or never true for your household in the last 12 months?
  2. “The food that we bought just didn’t last, and we didn’t have money to get more.” Was that often, sometimes, or never true for your household in the last 12 months?

A response of “often true” or “sometimes true” to either question = positive screen for food insecurity.

Anyone with a positive screen for food insecurity should be connected with local resources to assist with acquisition of free, healthy foods. Familiarize yourself with food resources in your area, particularly if you treat a high proportion of patients with food insecurity