Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated food insecurity: Study


The Covid-19 pandemic worsened food insecurity, even among people who are more well-off than the general population, finds a survey of nearly 6,000 American families.

The survey, conducted via social media by researchers at NYU School of Global Public Health, showed that nearly 15 per cent of US households, and nearly 18 per cent of households with children, reported food insecurity early in the Covid-19 pandemic.

The findings have been published in Nutrition Journal.

“Food security is not only about putting calories into our bodies, but also what we eat — and it is calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods that are typically cheap and affordable. So while food insecurity can lead to hunger, over time it can also lead to obesity and other related metabolic dysregulation,” said lead author Niyati Parekh, Professor of public health nutrition at NYU.

To understand Covid-19’s impact on food insecurity early in the pandemic, NYU researchers created and administered an online survey in mid-April 2020, recruiting participants through Facebook and Instagram.

They surveyed more than 5,600 adults from across the country, 25 per cent of whom had children at home, to assess their food insecurity using a six-item questionnaire developed by the US Department of Agriculture.

Covid-19 is estimated to have dramatically increased the number of people worldwide facing acute food insecurity in 2020-2021.

In 2020, between 720 and 811 million people in the world went hungry, revealed the UN report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.

A recent report by social impact advisory group Dalberg, found that more than one in ten, or nearly 3.2 crore women in India alimited their food intake or ran out of food during the Covid-induced lockdown last year.

Another report by non-profit Oxfam in July revealed that since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of people living in famine-like conditions has increased six-fold to more than 520,000.

Marginalised groups, especially women, displaced people, and informal workers, have been hit hardest.