Factors Associated with Food Insecurity among the Urban B40 Group in Kuching, Sarawak, During the Covid-19 Pandemic


  • Yeo Zi Sheng Masters of Public Health (MPH), Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Medical Degree (MD), Russian State Medical University, Malaysia. Email: zishengyeo@gmail.com
  • Cheah Whye Lian Dept of Community Medicine & Public Health, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, Malaysia. Email: wlcheah@unimas.my


B40, Covid-19, Food security and insecurity, Poverty


Movement restrictions were one of many measures used to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 disease in Malaysia. The movement restrictions in Malaysia included suspending international travel, prohibiting gatherings, closure of non-essential business, and limiting travel distances. These restrictions negatively affected the economy, especially those already in poverty. The poor now have less capacity to attain safe and sufficient nutritious food to meet their dietary requirements for an active and healthy lifestyle. In Malaysia, those in poverty are grouped into the B40 income group, representing the bottom 40 per cent of income makers in Malaysia. This study determined the factors associated with food insecurity among the urban B40 group in Kuching, Sarawak, during the Covid-19 pandemic. This cross-sectional quantitative study collected data face-to-face using structured questionnaires from 302 urban B40 households in Kuching, Sarawak.

The data collected included sociodemographic characteristics, food security, coping strategies, depressive symptoms and self-reported health status. Logistic regression was used to determine the factors associated with food security. The results showed that among the respondents, the majority, 239 (79.1%) were food insecure, and among the variables tested, only age and self-reported health status were significant predictors (p < 0.01) of food security in Kuching, Sarawak, during the Covid-19 pandemic. Every year increase in age increases the chance of being food secure by 4.1%, while those with a good self-reported health status have a

2.25 times increased chance of being food secure compared to those with poor self-reported health status. The Covid-19 crisis profoundly disrupted the landscape of previously known factors associated with food security. With the results of this study, policymakers can use this new information to better target aid when faced with scarce resources during a crisis. Some examples are using resources to support those in poorer health status and providing education to the younger age group to utilise resources better among the B40 group.


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