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Public health for paediatricians: 15-minute guide to identify and address food insecurity
  1. Mabel Prendergast1,
  2. Ilektra Kanella1,
  3. Helena Milton-Jones1,
  4. Zoe Moula2,
  5. Katie Scott2,
  6. Rakhee Shah3,4
  1. 1 Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2 Medical Education Innovation & Research Centre, Imperial College London Department of Primary Care and Public Health, London, UK
  3. 3 Child Health Unit, Imperial College London Department of Primary Care and Public Health, London, UK
  4. 4 Community Paediatrics, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Mabel Prendergast, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Reynolds Building, Margravine Road, London W6 8RP, UK; mabel.prendergast18{at}


Food insecurity is a major problem in the UK. It has been both highlighted and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and particularly affects children and young people (CYP). The effects of inadequate nutrition manifest themselves in all stages of child development and adversely affect health and educational outcomes. Healthcare professionals working with CYP can address food insecurity at individual, local community, organisational and national levels. The government plays an important role in monitoring and responding to food insecurity, supporting CYP most in need.

This paper summarises how food insecurity can be identified and approached by healthcare professionals in clinical consultations, including the use of screening tools and awareness of risk factors that signpost family food insecurity. Examples of services and clinician-assisted referrals to support vulnerable patients are provided, alongside suggested methods to implement further education for the multidisciplinary healthcare team.

  • child health
  • paediatrics
  • child health services

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  • Correction notice This paper has been corrected since it was first published. There was a spelling mistake in one of the headings.

  • Contributors MLP, IK and HM-J conceived of the presented idea. ZM, KS and RS were involved in planning and supervising the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.