Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2006
Publication Date: 1/1/2007
Citation: Heird, W.C. 2007. Food insecurity, hunger, and undernutrition. In: Kliegman, R.M., Jenson, H.B., Behrman, R.E., Stanton, B.F., editors. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th edition. Saunders Elsevier, Philadelphia. PA. p. 226-232.
Technical Abstract: Food insecurity, hunger, and undernutrition are viewed as a continuum, with food insecurity resulting in hunger and ultimately, if sufficiently severe and/or of sufficient duration, in undernutrition. 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 long-term inadequate intake. This continuum from food insecurity to hunger and ultimately to undernutrition affects many children, particularly in developing countries; however, not all food-insecure children experience hunger, and not all undernourished children 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 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.