4363.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/06/2013   
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Contents >> Health risk factors >> Food Security



Food security, according to the World Health Organisation definition, requires constant access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.

This topic collects information on the number of households that have experienced financial barriers in regards to purchasing food. Specifically, this topic focusses on:

  • running out of food and being unable to purchase more due to cost
  • having difficulty ensuring a constant food intake is sustained.


Information was collected from persons aged 18 years and over in the NNPAS.


Adult respondents were asked if there was any time in the last 12 months that they, or members of their household, had run out of food and couldn't afford to buy more. Respondents who answered yes were asked if they, or members of their household, had gone without food.

Data items

The data items and related output categories for this topic are available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.

Please note that although the food security questions were collected from the adult respondent, these items are presented on the household level due to being household characteristics.


Points to be considered in interpreting data for this topic include the following:
  • Due to the sensitive nature of these questions, some under-reporting may have occurred.
  • As these questions are asked of the selected adult, responses may be influenced by their own personal situation. Similarly, responses may reflect the situation of any one person in the household. It is therefore possible that some responses may not reflect the situation of the household as a whole, particularly in multiple family or group households.
  • The questions do not collect information on frequency of occurrence. It is therefore not possible to report on the level of food insecurity.
  • The questions do not collect information on access to nutritional food and therefore, according to the above definition, does not provide a true measure of food security.

Comparability with other surveys

The 2012-13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS) collect data using the same food security questions as those used in NNPAS, so comparisons may be possible between the NNPAS and these surveys.

The 1995 National Nutrition Survey (NNS) and the 2001 National Health survey (NHS) collected the first Food security question only. However, both of these surveys referenced 'you' in their question rather than collecting about any person in the household and therefore they are not considered directly comparable with the NNPAS. This personal focus is also used in other surveys, including some State and Territory health surveys. Questions should therefore be reviewed for comparability prior to undertaking data comparisons.

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