In recent years, the interest in food and nutrition insecurity in high-income countries has skyrocketed. However, its recognition in Europe is still developing.
Prevalence in the general population ranges between 5% and 20%, with higher rates identified in women, children, older adults, single-parent households, those with low educational attainment, and on low or unstable income and/or employment. In users of food aid, the prevalence of food insecurity is above 70%.
Responses to food and nutrition insecurity include welfare policies and food assistance programs at regional and national levels. However, most current strategies are not successful in tackling the structural drivers of food and nutrition insecurity, nor do they guarantee diet quality. Despite limited involvement to-date, dietitians can play an important role in addressing food and nutrition insecurity across Europe.
Action is needed in four areas:
- create awareness of the existence and severity of food and nutrition insecurity,
- advocate for comprehensive, robust data on the determinants and prevalence,
- partner with diverse stakeholders, social assistance providers, local authorities, and nongovernmental organizations in a comprehensive, intersectoral, and integrated manner,
- participate in the development of political instruments and interventions that ensure equitable access to high-quality safe food.
Above is an excerpt from the article: CARRILLO-ALVAREZ, Elena. Perspective: Food and nutrition insecurity in Europe: Challenges and opportunities for dietitians. Advances in Nutrition, 2023. You can download it below:
The topic of food insecurity was first discussed during EFAD’s General Meeting 2022. A number of EFAD members have suggested that EFAD assist them by collecting case studies of national or local solutions or policy papers about how dietitians can contribute to food security. Thus, the idea for the education hub and course emerged.
EFAD is also collaborating with the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on that topic and e.g. the case study on the situation of food insecurity in Europe (in Barcelona, specifically) was included in the report paper of their roundtable. The paper was submitted for publication to Advances in Nutrition and is currently being reviewed.
In August 2023, EFAD ESDN Public Health expert, Elena Carillo-Alvarez published a perspective article on challenges and opportunities for dietitians in addressing food and nutrition insecurity across Europe (ref. above).