Food and food security

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Ideas for research using data on food and food security

Key data

Whilst there is a wealth of data on food and food security, a number of studies are regarded as 'key' – either through their subject/geographical coverage, their use of standard measures, their longevity, their usage among the research community or because they are used to create 'official' figures.

The majority of the data described are known as 'raw', 'primary' or 'source' data in the sense that they represent information that has been collected 'first-hand'; they are original data sources which may then be used for 'secondary' analysis by researchers not involved in the data collection process. The majority of these data are anonymised because they describe the attitudes, behaviour, circumstances and personal details of the individuals being studied. These types of data are heavily used by the academic and government research communities.

The UK Data Service provides access to the following primary data sources:

Study name Coverage Topics

1970 British Cohort Study

1970 – ongoing; Great Britain

Diet (including 4-day diary)

Diet - consumption of ready-meals, convenience foods, take-aways and home-cooked meals

Food and drink consumed

Attitudes to Genetically Modified Foods, 2009

May 2009 – July 2009; England and Scotland


Diet and nutrition

Food additives

Food industry

Health foods

British Household Panel Survey

Annually 1991 – 2009 (longitudinal)
1991 – 2001: Great Britain
2001 – 2009: United Kingdom


Beliefs on food global security;

Expenditure on food and groceries;

Expenditure on eating or buying food outside the household


Take aways and fizzy drinks consumed

Concepts of Healthy Eating Food Research: Phases I and II, 1992-1996 

1992 – 1996; England and Wales

Diet and nutrition


Health foods

Delivering Sustainability: Towards the Creative Procurement of School Meals, 2005-2008

2005 – 2008; England, Italy,  Scotland, United States and Wales

Food production

Organic foods

School meals

Domestic Cooking and Cooking Skills in Late Twentieth Century England, 1996-1997

1996 – 1997; England


Cooking equipment and facilities


Diet and nutrition

Household budgets

English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

1998 – continuing (longitudinal);


Expenditure on food and groceries

Whether cut food consumption due to financial difficulty

Expenditure on eating or buying food outside the household

Food and drink consumed the previous day

Family Expenditure Survey

1961 – 2001; households in the United Kingdom

Alcoholic drinks


Food consumption

Food expenditure

Farm Business Survey

1982 – ongoing; farms in England and Wales



Farm characteristics

Farm finance including costs, receipts, assets, income, subsidies

Food and You Survey

2010 – ongoing (every 2 years); adults in the United Kingdom

Behaviour, attitudes and knowledge towards food issues:

Food safety

Healthy eating

Shopping habits

Growing Up in Scotland

2005 – ongoing; Scotland

Food and eating - including eating habits, main meals, types of food eaten, Sources of advice on children's diets/healthy eating

Health and Lifestyle Survey

1984 – 1995; Great Britain

Beliefs about impact of food and eating habits on health

Diet restrictions

Nutritional knowledge

Types of food and drink consumed

Health Survey for England

1991 - continuing; individuals in England

Drinks (including alcohol)


Food supplements

Fruit and vegetable consumption


IMF International Financial Statistics, 1948-

1948 – continuing; Multi-nation

Market prices of food (wheat, rice, fish, meat, cooking oil, etc.)

Exports and imports of food

Infant Feeding Survey

1985 – 2010; mothers resident in the United Kingdom

Infant feeding

Breast feeding practices and intentions

Age solid foods introduced

Smoking and drinking during pregnancy

Living Costs and Food Survey

2001 – ongoing (annual survey); households in the United Kingdom

Detailed household expenditure, including food, income, demographics


Low Income Diet and Nutrition Survey, 2003-2005

2003-2005; households in the United Kingdom


Food supplements


Special diets

Middle-Class Parents' and Teenagers' Conceptions of Diet, Weight and Health, 2007-2008

January 2007 - December 2008; Scotland

Diet and nutrition

Health foods


National Child Development Study

1958 – continuing (longitudinal); Great Britain

Diet restrictions

Frequency of selected food and drinks consumed

National Diet and Nutrition Survey

2008/09 – ongoing; individuals in the United Kingdom   

Four-day food diary

Eating habits

Smoking and drinking

General health

Blood and urine samples

National Food Survey

1974 – 2000; households in the United Kingdom

Basic needs


Food consumption

Food preservation

Home-grown foods

OECD Environment Statistics 1980-2013

1980 – 2013; multi-nation


Land use (arable land, permanent crops, etc.)

OECD International Direct Investment Statistics, 1980-

1980 – continuing; Multi-nation

Investment in agriculture and fishery

UN Comtrade database, 1962-

1962 – continuing; Multi-nation

Food commodity trade



Understanding Society

Annually 2009 – ongoing (longitudinal); United Kingdom


Bread/diary/fruit/vegetables eaten


Eat with family

Fruit and veg consumed

Take aways and fizzy drinks consumed

Wellbeing in Developing Countries: Community Profiles, 2003-2006

June 2003 - June 2006; Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru, Thailand


Food production


Wellbeing in Developing Countries: Income and Expenditure, 2005-2006

January 2005 - March 2006; Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru, Thailand


Food production


Wellbeing in Developing Countries: Resources and Needs, 2004-2005

May 2004 - June 2005; Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru, Thailand

Cooking facilities


Food resources

Food shortages

Work Attitudes and Spending in India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt, 1992-2007

1992 – 2007; Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa




Food consumption

World Bank Africa Development Indicators, 1960-2011

1960 – 2011; multi-nation





World Bank World Development Indicators, 1960-

1960 - continuing; multi-nation



Food production index


Food deficit


Young Lives: an International Study of Childhood Poverty

2002 – 2013; multi-nation

Consumer goods


School meals

Other key data publishers

UK Statistics Authority

Government and voluntary sector

Academic institutions

Data catalogue

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