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Public Health Nutr. 2002 Jun;5(3):397-404.

Food security in the Baltic Republics.

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European Centre on Health of Societies in Transition, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK.



Food insecurity has become an important issue in many countries of the former Soviet Union following the transition to a market economy. This study examined three aspects of food security in the Baltic Republics: reasons for choosing foods; level of dependence on home-grown or raised foods; and use of home-grown vegetables.


Cross-sectional surveys.


Data from surveys conducted in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the summer of 1997 were used to describe the three aspects of food security and their socio-economic correlates (using descriptive statistics and logistic regression).


Representative samples of adults were selected in each country (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, ).


Cost was the most commonly reported reason for choosing foods, particularly in Lithuania (67%) and Latvia (60%) (Estonia 41%), and especially among people with lower income levels. In each country, large proportions of respondents depended partially or entirely on home-grown or raised foods (Latvia 47%, Lithuania 42%, Estonia 32%) or used home-grown vegetables frequently (Lithuania 66%, Latvia 53%, Estonia 29%); this was particularly the case in rural areas.


The issue of food security needs to be examined further in the Baltic Republics and other transitional economies as increased access to safe, healthy foods for all could help improve dietary intake and reduce the high mortality from non-communicable diseases. Access to affordable, high-quality fresh foods by different social groups should be monitored and the potential contribution of home-grown and raised foods to reduce food poverty should be explored further.

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