Food Security Issues Among Low-Income Earners Living with Diabetes

Beatriz Cuesta-Briand, Sherry Saggers, Alexandra McManus



Diabetes prevalence is increasing worldwide. More than 800,000 Australians live with diabetes, and there are stark inequities in prevalence and clinical outcomes among Indigenous people and low socio-economic groups.


This paper focuses on food security issues experienced by low-income earners living with type 2 diabetes in Perth, Western Australia. The results presented here are part of a broader qualitative study exploring the impact of socio-economic disadvantage on diabetes.


Data was collected through focus groups and semi-structured interviews conducted from October 2008 to November 2009. The sample, comprising 38 participants (Indigenous and non-Indigenous), was recruited from areas with high indices of socio-economic disadvantage in Perth. Deductive data analysis identified categories from an existing conceptual framework for the relationship between socio-economic position and diabetes health outcomes, while an inductive approach was adopted to identify new themes.


Participants had a good understanding of their dietary requirements. However, access to healthy food was not always realised, as many participants depended on others for food provision and meal preparation and had little control over their diets. Furthermore, the majority struggled to accommodate the price of healthy food within a limited budget.


In this study, low-income earners living with diabetes faced food security issues. Participants reported cost barriers, but also physical barriers relating to functional limitations and lack of transport. This study highlights that the socio-economic circumstances in which vulnerable populations experience their disease need to be understood and addressed in order to reduce the inequities surrounding diabetes outcomes.   

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