What can Secondary Data Tell Us about Household Food Insecurity in a High-Income Country Context?

Ourega Ejebu, Stephen Whybrow, Lynda Mckenzie, Elizabeth Dowler, Ada L. Garcia, Anne Ludbrook, Karen Louise Barton, Wendy Louise Wrieden, Flora Douglas* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


In the absence of routinely collected household food insecurity data, this study investigated what could be determined about the nature and prevalence of household food insecurity in Scotland from secondary data. Secondary analysis of the Living Costs and Food Survey (2007–2012) was conducted to calculate weekly food expenditure and its ratio to equivalised income for households below average income (HBAI) and above average income (non-HBAI). Diet Quality Index (DQI) scores were calculated for this survey and the Scottish Health Survey (SHeS, 2008 and 2012). Secondary data provided a partial picture of food insecurity prevalence in Scotland, and a limited picture of differences in diet quality. In 2012, HBAI spent significantly less in absolute terms per week on food and non-alcoholic drinks (£53.85) compared to non-HBAI (£86.73), but proportionately more of their income (29% and 15% respectively). Poorer households were less likely to achieve recommended fruit and vegetable intakes than were more affluent households. The mean DQI score (SHeS data) of HBAI fell between 2008 and 2012, and was significantly lower than the mean score for non-HBAI in 2012. Secondary data are insufficient to generate the robust and comprehensive picture needed to monitor the incidence and prevalence of food insecurity in Scotland.
Original languageEnglish
Article number82
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
Early online date29 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding: This research was funded by NHS Health Scotland with additional funding support provided for Flora Douglas’ and Stephen Whybrow’s time from the Scottish Government’s RESAS programme. Core support to HERU from the Chief Scientist Office Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates and the University
of Aberdeen is gratefully acknowledged.
Acknowledgments: This study was also like to acknowledge Bill Gray NHS Health Scotland and Dionne MacKison formerly of NHS Health Scotland for their professional review and support during the project. The authors would also like to acknowledge the anonymous reviewers of this manuscript, whose observations
and suggestions improved this paper.


  • food insecurity
  • food poverty
  • prevalence
  • household
  • food surveys
  • secondary data
  • Scotland
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Diet/economics
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Scotland/epidemiology
  • Family Characteristics
  • Health Surveys
  • Food Supply/economics


Dive into the research topics of 'What can Secondary Data Tell Us about Household Food Insecurity in a High-Income Country Context?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this