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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Food insecurity, hunger, and undernutrition

item Heird, William

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/20/2003
Publication Date: 5/1/2004
Citation: Heird, W.C. 2004. Food insecurity, hunger, and undernutrition. In: Behrman, R.E., Kleigman, R.M., Jenson, H.B., editors. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 17th edition. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Sanders. p. 167-173.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Food insecurity, hunger, and undernutrition are often viewed as a continuum, with food insecurity resulting in hunger and, ultimately, if sufficiently severe and/or of sufficient duration, in undernutrition. According to this view, food insecurity indicates inadequate access to food for whatever reason, hunger is the immediate physiologic manifestation of inadequate food intake, and undernutrition describes the biochemical and/or physical consequences of chronically inadequate intake. This continuum from food insecurity to hunger and, ultimately, to undernutrition is often true, particularly in developing countries; however, all food-insecure children do not experience hunger and all undernourished children do not experience food insecurity before becoming undernourished. Each condition, not only undernutrition, has consequences for the individual, the family, and society. Thus, viewing them as an inevitable continuum distorts estimates of the prevalence, causes, and consequences of each condition. It also may lead to inappropriate policy responses as well as to inappropriate treatment and/or failure to recognize and, hopefully, remedy conditions other than overt undernutrition. Instead, it is important to understand the nature of each of these problems as well as their relationships to each other.

Last Modified: 10/20/2017
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