Prevalence and changes in food-related hardships by socioeconomic and demographic groups during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK: A longitudinal panel study
May 17, 2021
Jonathan Koltai, Veronica Toffolutti, Martin McKee, David Stuckler.
Authors used data from the longitudinal UK Understanding Society survey (latest wave between April-July 2020, N=11,104) to understand the effect of the pandemic on food insecurity. During the data collection period, reports of being unable to eat healthy and nutritious foods sharply increased from 3.2% of respondents in April to 16.3% in July. This was largely driven by increases among Asian people, self-employed people, those aged 34-55, and those with children under 15 in the household. There were also geographical discrepancies, with the largest increase in food-related hardship (19.4 percentage points) being reported by those living in Scotland. There was a smaller increase in reports of being hungry but not eating in the last week (from 3.3% in April to 5.1% in July), specifically among disadvantaged groups. Individuals who became unemployed during the pandemic had higher odds of going hungry in the last week compared to both those who have been furloughed (OR 2.2, p<0.05) and who have been persistently employed (OR 3.5, p<0.001). These findings suggest that the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme and equivalent programs have mitigated some exposure to food-related hardship; however, authors suggest specific pandemic response components addressing additional difficulties in food affordability and supply.
Koltai J, Toffolutti V, McKee M, et al. Prevalence and changes in food-related hardships by socioeconomic and demographic groups during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK: A longitudinal panel study. Lancet Reg Heal Eur. 2021;6:100125. doi:10.1016/j.lanepe.2021.100125