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Socioeconomic risks of food insecurity during the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK: findings from the Understanding Society Covid Survey

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Heather Brown, Dr Susanna Mills, Dr Viviana AlbaniORCiD



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


© 2022, The Author(s).Background: We estimated socioeconomic factors associated with food insecurity during the first year of the Covid pandemic in the UK and explored potential mechanisms explaining these associations. Methods: Data were from the April, July, and September 2020 waves of the UK Understanding Society Covid Survey. Food insecurity was measured as ‘not having access to healthy and nutritious food’ and ‘reporting being hungry but not eating’. Logistic regression estimated the relationship between socioeconomic factors and food insecurity. A decomposition approach explored if financial vulnerability and having Covid-19 explained associations between socioeconomics factors and food insecurity. Results: Single parents and young people aged 16–30 years had a higher odds of reporting both measures of food insecurity. Financial insecurity explained 5% to 25% of the likelihood of reporting being food insecure for young people and single parents depending on the food insecurity measure used. Experiencing Covid-19 symptoms explained less than 5% of the likelihood of being food insecure for single parents but approximately 30% of not having access to healthy and nutritious food for young people. Conclusion: Policies providing additional financial support may help to reduce the impact of Covid-19 on food insecurity in the UK.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Brown H, Mills S, Albani V

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMC Public Health

Year: 2022

Volume: 22

Issue: 1

Print publication date: 01/12/2022

Online publication date: 26/03/2022

Acceptance date: 04/03/2022

Date deposited: 13/04/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2458

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s12889-022-12964-w

PubMed id: 35346131


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Funder referenceFunder name
... and Health Research (Welsh Assembly Government) and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UKCRC, is gratefully acknowledged.
... Health and Social Care Research and Development Office, Northern Ireland, National Institute for Social Care ...
Funding for Fuse from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, National Institute of Health Research, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, ...
members of Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health ( Fuse is a UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) Public Health Research Centre of Excellence.