1Nutrition Research Institute, Lima, Peru, 2Group for the Analysis of Development, Lima, Peru, 3Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, 4Department of Real Estate and Planning, Henley Business School, University of Reading, England, 5Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading, United Kingdom, England.
Background and objective. Peruvian households have experienced one of the largest economic disruptions in Latin America due to COVID-19 and the related restrictive measures put in place. Little is known about the effect of the pandemic of the food insecurity of young people and the effectiveness of the government’s response (through emergency cash transfer) in alleviating food insecurity (FI). Objective. Identify the characteristics of young people who are more likely to be affected by FI during the COVID-19, and evaluate the role of government support in reducing FI.
Methods. We analyzed longitudinal data from 1,975 Young Lives study’s (YLS) participants aged 18 to 27 years. FI was assessed using FIES (Food Insecurity Experience Scale) and validated using the Rasch model. Selected household characteristics observed before and during COVID-19 were used to characterize participants’ vulnerability to FI. The role of government cash transfers on FI was assessed using multivariate logistic regressions.
Results. During the period March to December 2020 of the COVID-19 pandemic, 24% (95% CI 22.1- 25.9%) of the study population experienced FI. Wealthier families were 49% less likely to experience FI. Larger families (>6 members) and families that reported an increase in household expenses and a decrease of income due to COVID-19 were 35%, 39%, and 42% more likely to experience FI, respectively. No association was found between economic government support and food insecurity (p=0.768).
Conclusion. Pre-pandemic socioeconomic status and family size together with the economic disruption due to COVID-19 are risk factors predicting food insecurity. Government support might have arrived too late and/or might have been insufficient to protect vulnerable households.
Keywords: food insecurity and vulnerability. malnutrition, COVID-19, governmental social programs.