Adolescent food insecurity in rural Sindh, Pakistan: A cross-sectional survey

Sana Sheikh, Romaina Iqbal, Rahat Qureshi, Iqbal Azam, Rubina Barolia

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Food insecurity (FI) is alarmingly high in developing countries including Pakistan. A quarter of Pakistan's population consists of adolescents yet there is no information on their experience of FI. FI at adolescent age have long term effect on mental and physical health hence we aimed to determine the prevalence of food insecurity (FI) among adolescents and compare it with household FI, and assess social determinants of adolescent FI. Methods: A cross-sectional survey on 799 households with unmarried adolescents was conducted from September 2015 to June 2016 in three union councils of Hyderabad, Pakistan. Unmarried 10-19 years old girls and boys were interviewed regarding their FI status using Household Food Insecurity Assessment Scale (HFIAS). Household-level FI was also assessed by interviewing mothers of adolescents, and it was compared with adolescent's FI. Association of adolescent's FI with socio-demographic determinants was explored through Cox regression using STATA version 14.0. and prevalence ratios were estimated. Results: FI was found among 52.4% of the adolescents compared to 39% of the households. Thirty percent of the adolescents were food insecure within the food secure households. Female adolescents were found to be less food insecure (Adjusted Prevalence Ratio (APR) 0.4 95% CI [0.3, 0.5]) compared to males. Social determinants like socioeconomic status (SES), crowding index or education of parents were not associated with adolescents' FI. Conclusion: Half of the adolescents were found to be food insecure which raises concerns regarding their health in the long run. Gender is an important social determinant of FI among adolescents which suggests an in-depth exploration of social dynamics of adolescent FI. We recommend the mixed-methods study to develop contextually relevant interventions to reduce FI among this group and improve their health status.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalBMC Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2020


  • Adolescents
  • Food insecurity
  • Lower-middle-income
  • Pakistan
  • Rural


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