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Prevalence of Household Food Insecurity in New Zealand Families with Infants †

Ioanna Katiforis
Claire Smith
Jillian J. Haszard
Sara E. Styles
Claudia Leong
Rachael W. Taylor
Cathryn A. Conlon
Kathryn L. Beck
Pamela R. von Hurst
Lisa A. Te Morenga
Neve McLean
Rosario Jupiterwala
Alice Cox
Emily Jones
Kimberley Brown
Madeleine Rowan
Maria Casale
Andrea Wei
5 and
Anne-Louise M. Heath
Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Biostatistics Centre, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Department of Sport Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion, Ara Institute of Canterbury, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand
Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
School of Sport Exercise and Nutrition, Massey University, Auckland 0745, New Zealand
Research Centre for Hauora and Health, Massey University, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand 2022, Wellington, New Zealand, 1–2 December 2022.
Joint Principal Investigators.
Med. Sci. Forum 2023, 18(1), 18;
Published: 15 March 2023
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand 2022)


Household food insecurity, defined in New Zealand (NZ) as a ‘limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited ability to acquire acceptable foods in a socially acceptable way’, is a serious public health concern associated with poorer diet quality and nutritional deficiencies. Preventing food insecurity in infancy is crucial because adequate nutrition is essential for normal infant growth and development. Household food insecurity was investigated in the First Foods NZ study, a cross-sectional study of families with infants aged 6.9–10.1 months in Auckland and Dunedin. A NZ-specific questionnaire consisting of eight validated food security indicator statements relating to household financial constraint over the previous 12 months was administered. The participants’ responses were scored using a total scoring protocol developed in the study. Cut-offs were applied to the total scores to create categories of food insecurity (secure, moderately insecure, severely insecure), and each household (n = 604) was classified into a category. In total, 17.4% (n = 105) of the households were moderately food insecure and 7.6% (n = 46) were severely food insecure. Of the food security indicators, the participants most frequently reported that the variety of foods the household was able to eat was limited by a lack of money (18.5% sometimes; 3.3% often), feeling stressed because of not having enough money for food (16.6% sometimes; 3.2% often), or feeling stressed because they could not provide the food they wanted for social occasions (13.9% sometimes; 3.0% often). Severe food insecurity was most prevalent in participants of Māori or Pasifika ethnicity, <25 years of age, not in work or on leave from work, or for whom school was their highest level of education. One quarter (25%) of the families experienced a degree of food insecurity, highlighting the need for dignified solutions that support all NZ families to acquire foods that are nutritious, affordable, and culturally acceptable to them.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, I.K., C.S., J.J.H., R.W.T. and A.-L.M.H.; methodology, I.K., C.S., J.J.H., R.W.T., C.A.C., K.L.B., P.R.v.H., L.A.T.M. and A.-L.M.H.; formal analysis, I.K. and J.J.H.; investigation, I.K., N.M., R.J., A.C., E.J., K.B., M.R., M.C. and A.W.; writing—original draft preparation, I.K., C.S. and J.J.H.; writing—review and editing, I.K., C.S., J.J.H., K.L.B. and A.-L.M.H.; supervision, C.S., J.J.H., S.E.S., C.L. and A.-L.M.H.; funding acquisition, A.-L.M.H. and R.W.T. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (19-172). Ioanna Katiforis was supported by a University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship.

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and approved by the Health and Disabilities Ethics Committee (HDEC_19STH151).

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all adult respondents involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

The data are not publicly available.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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MDPI and ACS Style

Katiforis, I.; Smith, C.; Haszard, J.J.; Styles, S.E.; Leong, C.; Taylor, R.W.; Conlon, C.A.; Beck, K.L.; von Hurst, P.R.; Te Morenga, L.A.; et al. Prevalence of Household Food Insecurity in New Zealand Families with Infants. Med. Sci. Forum 2023, 18, 18.

AMA Style

Katiforis I, Smith C, Haszard JJ, Styles SE, Leong C, Taylor RW, Conlon CA, Beck KL, von Hurst PR, Te Morenga LA, et al. Prevalence of Household Food Insecurity in New Zealand Families with Infants. Medical Sciences Forum. 2023; 18(1):18.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Katiforis, Ioanna, Claire Smith, Jillian J. Haszard, Sara E. Styles, Claudia Leong, Rachael W. Taylor, Cathryn A. Conlon, Kathryn L. Beck, Pamela R. von Hurst, Lisa A. Te Morenga, and et al. 2023. "Prevalence of Household Food Insecurity in New Zealand Families with Infants" Medical Sciences Forum 18, no. 1: 18.

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