Understanding the patterns of household food insecurity in Canada over time is helpful in developing and assessing the impact of policies and programs related to food security.
Measures of household food insecurity have been included on national health surveys since the mid-1990s, however, the use of different indicators and measurement inconsistencies have hindered the ability to track changes over time. To help address this, Health Canada commissioned a Discussion Paper on Household and Individual Food Insecurity in 2001 to explore issues related to the inclusion of indicators of food insecurity in a monitoring system.
Building on this discussion paper and with the advice of Canadian and American experts in food security measurement, the Household Food Security Survey Module (HFSSM) was included for the first time in a national survey in 2004 - the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2004: Nutrition.
While the HFSSM was included in the CCHS 2004, key differences in survey methodology (e.g., the geography and age of respondents sampled, the subject matter of the survey, the proportion of in-person versus telephone interviews) have resulted in estimates that are not directly comparable to those from the annual CCHS cycles. The prevalence of estimates of food insecurity from the CCHS 2004, therefore, should not be included in trend analysis.
Since 2005, the HFSSM has been optional on alternate cycles of the CCHS (i.e., asked only of respondents in provinces and territories which opt to include the module). It was optional in CCHS 2005 and CCHS 2009-2010 but was part of the common content in CCHS 2007-2008. Available estimates on the prevalence of household food insecurity from these cycles of the CCHS are presented for each province and territory in the figure below. Trends in household food insecurity are difficult to detect with data from only two or three points in time, however, with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, the data reveal little change in prevalence between 2005 and 2009-2010 for most provinces and territories.
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