This research compared prevalence estimates of food insecurity using the single‐item Australian measure with three adaptations of the United States Department of Agriculture Food Security Survey Module (USDA‐FSSM) involving 6‐, 10‐ and 18‐item versions. Data was collected from individuals aged ≥18 years from disadvantaged suburbs of Brisbane. The prevalence of food insecurity was 19.5% using the single‐item measure; significantly less than the 24.4%, 22.8% and 21.1% identified using the 18‐item, 10‐item and 6‐item versions of the USDA‐FSSM, respectively. Overall the USDA‐FSSM may be a valid tool for the measurement of food insecurity within the current sample. The authors concluded that the measure of food insecurity employed in national surveys in Australia underestimates its prevalence and public health significance. Future monitoring and surveillance efforts should use a more accurate measure of food insecurity.