MHLU - Health Status Resource

Household food insecurity

Household food insecurity

Key Findings: 

Approximately 13.9% of households (22,848 households) in Middlesex-London reported having some level of food insecurity according to the Canadian Community Health Survey in 2013/14 (Figure 2.5.1). This translates to approximately 52,807 people (13.7%), aged 12 and older in Middlesex-London that were food insecure in 2013/14.

Middlesex-London’s rate of household food insecurity is similar to Ontario’s (12.2%) and the Peer Group (13.6%), which is the group of health units most like Middlesex-London in terms of socio-economic characteristics in 2015 (Figure 2.5.1).

Household food insecurity can be divided into those households in Middlesex-London that were marginally (6,092; 3.7%), moderately (11,335; 6.9%) or severely (5,421; 3.3%) food insecure. For the 5,421 households that reported severe food insecurity in 2013/2014, this translates into approximately a 14,269 people in Middlesex-LondonProportions of those by severity of food insecurity is consistent with those of Ontario and the Peer Group (Figure 2.5.2).

Generally, Ontario households with children under the age of 18 were more food insecure (15.2%) than those households without children under 18 (10.4%). Middlesex-London was similar to Ontario (with children 13.9%; without children 11.2%) (Figure 2.5.3). This is consistent with other reports that have found households with children under the age of 18 were at greater risk for food insecurity than households without children.2  

Household food insecurity in female headed households with children under the age of 25 (29.9%) was also significantly higher than the overall percent of food insecure households (12.0%) in Middlesex-London for the combined years of 2009 to 2014. This was the same pattern in Ontario overall (Figure 2.5.3).

There was a clear gradient in household food insecurity by income quintile in Middlesex-London such that almost one third of households with the lowest incomes were food insecure (31.9%) compared with only 2.1% for the two highest income quintiles combined for 2009 to 2014 (Figure 2.5.4).

There was no significant difference in food insecurity for households located in urban versus rural areas in Middlesex-London (not shown).

Interpretive Notes

Household food insecurity is the inadequate or insecure access to food because of financial constraints, and it is a key social determinant of health. 1, 2 Children that experience hunger have a greater likelihood of developing conditions such as depression and asthma in adolescence and early adulthood. Adults in food-insecure households have poorer physical and mental health and higher rates of chronic conditions, including depression, diabetes, and heart disease.2   The levels of food insecurity include marginal, moderate and severe.  In a marginally food insecure household either the adults, children or both compromise in some aspect of quality or quantity of food; a moderately food insecure household compromises in a number of aspects of quality and/or quantity of food consumed whereas a severely food insecure household reduces food intake and has disrupted eating patterns.

Ontario Public Health Standard: 

Ontario Public Health Standards: Requirements for Programs, Services, and Accountability

Population Health Assessment and Surveillance Protocol, 2018

How this Indicator was Calculated:

Household food insecurity assessed the proportion of households that were food insecure in the past 12 months due to lack of money.  Marginal food insecurity was combined with moderate and severe food insecurity to estimate food insecurity.


1. Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Health equity guideline [Internet]. Toronto (ON): Queen’s Printer for Ontario; 2018 [cited 2019 Feb 9]. 20 p. Available from:

2. Tarasuk, V, Mitchell, A, Dachner, N. Household food insecurity in Canada, 2012 [Internet]. Toronto (ON): Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF); 2014 Feb [updated 2017 May 12; cited 2019 Feb 20]. 30 p.  Available from:

Last modified on: March 18, 2019

Jargon Explained

Household food insecurity
the financial inability of households to access adequate food. Insecurity included marginal, moderate and severe food insecurity.