Cutting more than meals: Increasing severity of food insecurity is associated with the number and types of household financial strategies used to cope with inflation

Publication Name

Australian Journal of Social Issues


Food insecurity is a prominent social determinant of health. There is evidence of increasing food insecurity in high-income countries amid inflationary pressures. Yet, we know relatively little about the strategies that people employ to manage food insecurity nor how the severity of food insecurity affects the use of these strategies. Accordingly, this study of a nonprobability convenience online panel sample of 1284 adults in Tasmania assessed food insecurity and the strategies undertaken to manage rising costs of living. Structural equation modelling of 51 financial management actions revealed five strategies: reducing food quantity and quality, reducing housing and transport costs, drawing on assets, savings and credit, reducing insurance costs and reducing discretionary expenditure. Generalised linear regression modelling demonstrated that the use of coping strategies increased significantly with each categorical increase in food insecurity for each strategy except reducing insurance costs, in which increases became significant at moderate food insecurity. Overall, the results suggest that those experiencing food insecurity are also sacrificing in other areas, which is likely to have immediate and longer-term effects on health, social and financial wellbeing. Opportunities to mitigate these consequences, including strengthening of social safety nets, nutrition programmes and structural investment to ensure universal access to food, are discussed.

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