Household food insecurity in the UK

A large national household survey that includes a household food insecurity measurement tool has never been administered in the UK. However, modules have been included in various surveys over the past 15 years, which have given an indication of the magnitude of the problem in different populations, at different points in time.

Most recently, the Food Standards Agency included the 10 Adult/Household questions from the USDA Household Food Security Survey Module in the 2016 Food and You Survey. This survey only surveys adults living in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Figure 1 shows the prevalence of food insecurity amongst adults aged 16 and over, highlighting that 13% of adults were marginally food insecure, and an additional 5% were moderately food insecure and 3% were severely food insecure.

Figure 1: Household food insecurity amongst adults aged 16+ in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (2016).

Source: Food and You Survey 2016. Analysis of survey data by Loopstra, R (2017).


In 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organisation released the first round of data from the 2014 Gallup World Poll, which included the Food Insecurity Experience Scale. This survey was administered by telephone to 1000 adults aged 15 and older living in the UK. Based on this measurement tool and survey population, 5.6% of adults were classed as moderately food insecure using FAO thresholds, and 4.7% were classed as severely food insecure. Compared to adults in other high-income countries in Europe, the UK had among the worst levels of food insecurity (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Food insecurity among adults aged 15+ interviewed by phone in the Gallup World Poll, 2014.

Source: Taylor, A., Loopstra, R. Too Poor to Eat. The Food Foundation. 2016.