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Preliminary validation and piloting of a comprehensive measure of household food security in Australia

  • Sue Kleve (a1), Danielle Gallegos (a2), Stephanie Ashby (a1), Claire Palermo (a1) and Rebecca McKechnie (a2)...



To investigate the psychometric properties, validity and reliability of a newly developed measure of food insecurity, the Household Food and Nutrition Security Survey (HFNSS), among an Australian population.


Cross-sectional study.


Metropolitan areas of Melbourne, Australia, identified as very high, high or medium vulnerability in the 2008 Vulnerability Assessment for Mortgage, Petrol and Inflation Risks and Expenditure index.


A convenience sample of 134 adults (117 females and fifteen males, aged over 18 years).


Rasch modelling and factor analysis identified four items for exclusion. The remaining items yielded excellent reliability among the current sample and assessed three underlying components: the adult experience of food insecurity (component one), initial/periodic changes to children’s food intakes (component two) and progressive/persistent decreases in children’s food intakes (component three). Compared with the widely used US Department of Agriculture Food Security Survey Module, the HFNSS identified a significantly higher proportion of food insecurity; this is likely due to the HFNSS’s identification of food insecurity due to reasons other than (and including) limited financial access.


The HFNSS may be a valid and reliable tool for the assessment of food insecurity among the Australian population and provides a means of assessing multiple barriers to food security beyond poor financial access (which has been identified as a limitation of other existing tools). Future research should explore the validity and reliability of the tool among a more representative sample, as well as specifically among vulnerable population subgroups.

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