You are now in the main content area

Food Insecurity Screening and Diabetes

Screening for Households with Food Insecurity

Tomatoes in baskets at market

Food insecurity (FI) is consistently more prevalent in households of people living with diabetes, and particularly high among households of children with diabetes. With healthy eating at the cornerstone of all diabetes care strategies for both adults and children, FI can have a significant negative impact on diabetes management. Hence, there is growing recognition of the importance of FI routine screening to help clinicians tailor diabetes management plans for FI households. For instance, knowledge of FI could guide clinicians to provide FI families with more realistic dietary recommendations, adjust medication regimens, and identify patients at increased risk of poor FI-related health outcomes, such as asthma, depression, and obesity. A positive screen could direct patients to affordable sources of healthy foods and interventions to better support diabetes management.

Our research projects have evaluated the implementation of two FI screening initiatives in a diabetes pediatric clinic and in a community health center by assessing the acceptability and the feasibility of these screening initiatives from the perspective of both families and clinicians. Results show that screening provides FI families an opportunity to express their concerns and become aware of affordable food resources. Most FI families feel comfortable answering screening questions, although some of them may describe stigma and fear of judgment by clinicians. Findings also show that clinicians are willing to incorporate FI screening, especially if a standardized tool is available and effective referral resources to address social adversities exist.

To increase screening uptake and minimize the disruption of clinicians’ workflow, FI screening can be administered in self-reported computer-based formats, which in turn facilitate the integration of FI screening into families’ electronic medical records (EMR). An automated EMR default process may also support routine screening and continuity of practice among clinicians.

This research encourages the implementation of similar FI screening initiatives in other clinical, community and primary care settings as part of routine clinical practice, which will ensure that FI individuals and children receive treatment plans tailored to their FI circumstances

Supporting Documents

Food Insecurity Screening Among Families of Children With Diabetes. Vitale M, Dorado L, Pais V, Sidani S, Gucciardi E.Diabetes Spectr. 2019 Nov;32(4):338-348.

Emerging practices supporting diabetes self-management among food insecure adults and families: A scoping review. Gucciardi E, Yang A, Cohen-Olivenstein K, Parmentier B, Wegener J, Pais V. PLoS One. 2019 Nov 6;14(11).

Developing and Implementing a Food Insecurity Screening Initiative for Adult Patients Living With Type 2 Diabetes. Thomas B, Fitzpatrick S, Sidani S, Gucciardi E. Can J Diabetes. 2018 Jun;42(3):257-262.

Challenges of Diabetes Self-Management in Adults Affected by Food Insecurity in a Large Urban Centre of Ontario, Canada. Chan J, DeMelo M, Gingras J, Gucciardi E. Int J Endocrinol. 2015;2015:903468. doi: 10.1155/2015/903468. Epub 2015 Oct 20.

The Intersection between Food Insecurity and Diabetes: A Review. Gucciardi E, Vahabi M, Norris N, Del Monte JP, Farnum C. Curr Nutr Rep. 2014;3(4):324-332. Review.

Exploration of the relationship between household food insecurity and diabetes in Canada. Gucciardi E, Vogt JA, DeMelo M, Stewart DE. Diabetes Care. 2009 Dec;32(12):2218-24. doi: 10.2337/dc09-0823. Epub 2009 Aug 31.

Updated May 2020


Dr. Enza Gucciardi, PhD


Project dates

2009 - present


Lawson Foundation; Faculty of Community Services and Office of Research, Ryerson University; Banting and Best Diabetes Centre