One in 4 UK Adults at Risk of Hunger and Malnutrition Following Lockdown

Dawn O'Shea

June 23, 2020

One in four adults in the UK have experienced food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is likely to have left them susceptible to hunger and potential malnutrition, according to the findings of a survey published by Feeding Britain and Northumbria University’s Healthy Living Lab.

The survey also found that nearly one in four adults looking after children have eaten less so they can feed the children in their household.

Half of all adults have tried to cope by purchasing less expensive food, which they would not ordinarily choose to buy. That figure rises to nine in 10 amongst adults who live in households that are the least food secure and most susceptible to hunger and potential malnutrition.

Even the high use of various coping strategies such as buying less expensive food, borrowing food, using food banks, sending children to eat elsewhere and restricting the food they eat at a relatively high rate has not enabled adults to become food secure and live free of hunger and potential malnutrition.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Greta Defeyter, Director of Northumbria University's Healthy Living Lab, said: “These findings present an appalling picture of the high percentage of adults experiencing food insecurity in the UK. If we, as a country, are to stand a chance of getting to grips with this problem, we need the Prime Minister to oversee and implement with urgency a national food strategy which enhances the supply, affordability, and accessibility of nutritious food to everyone in our country, while minimising the need to deploy the many coping strategies, such as the use of food banks, which we have identified through this survey. These are often measures of last resort and do not compensate for an adequate income and the availability of affordable nutritious food within all communities.”

Defeyter G, Stretesky P, Forsey A, Mann E, Henderson E, Pepper G, Walters P. Food and coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 June 20.  Full text.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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