This June’s UNICEF report should have shocked Britain into action. Britain has the highest level of children brought up in severe food poverty in Europe. Robin Hinks works for the Food Foundation an independent think tank on food issues who have long called for regular measurement of levels of food insecurity in the UK and takes us through the figures in this report.
On the 15th of June 2017, the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) published the first global estimates of food insecurity among households with children under the age of 15. The report should raise serious alarm bells for policy makers in the UK.
Being food secure means being sure of your ability to secure enough food of sufficient quality and quantity, to allow you to stay healthy and participate in society. Food insecurity has varying degrees of severity. Moderate stages involve worry about whether there will be enough food, followed by compromising quality, variety and quantity of food. More severe stages involve going without food and experiencing hunger due.
The analysis – based on robust survey data collected by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation – indicates that one in five children in the UK live with an adult who is moderately or severely food insecure; one in ten live with a severely food insecure adult.
By either measure, this reveals that the UK is one of the most food insecure nations for children in the European Union.
UNICEF report that “children who are exposed to food insecurity are more likely to face adverse health outcomes and developmental risk… Food hardship among children also predicts impaired academic performance, and is positively associated with experiencing shame at being out of food, and behavioural problems”.
This report adds to a growing evidence base regarding the prevalence of food insecurity in the UK. base regarding childhood food insecurity. While the data is useful, central government must now commit to regularly measure the scale of this problem, so that targeted responses can be monitored and evaluated.