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Food insecurity and patterns of dietary intake in a sample of UK adults

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jackie Shinwell, Professor Melissa BatesonORCiD, Professor Daniel Nettle, Gillian Pepper



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021 Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved.The aim of this study was to identify the dietary-intake correlates of food insecurity in UK adults. We recruited groups of low-income participants who were classified as food insecure (n = 196) or food secure (n = 198). Participants completed up to five 24h dietary recalls. There was no difference in total energy intake by food insecurity status (βFI = -0.06, 95% CI - 0.25 to 0.13). Food insecure participants consumed a less diverse diet, as evidenced by fewer distinct foods per meal (βFI = -0.27, 95% CI -0.47 to -0.07), and had more variable time gaps between meals (βFI = 0.21, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.41). These associations corresponded closely to those found in a recent U.S. study using similar measures, suggesting that the dietary intake signature of food insecurity generalizes across populations. The findings suggest that the consequences of food insecurity for weight gain and health are not due to increased energy intake. We suggest that there may be important health and metabolic effects of temporal irregularity in dietary intake, which appears to be an important component of food insecurity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Shinwell J, Bateson M, Nettle D, Pepper GV

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Nutrition

Year: 2022

Volume: 128

Issue: 4

Pages: 770-777

Print publication date: 28/08/2022

Online publication date: 23/09/2021

Acceptance date: 16/09/2021

Date deposited: 28/01/2022

ISSN (print): 0007-1145

ISSN (electronic): 1475-2662

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0007114521003810

PubMed id: 34551836


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