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      Measuring household food insecurity: why it's so important and yet so difficult to do.

      The Journal of Nutrition

      Developing Countries, Eating, Food Supply, Humans, Poverty

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          Food insecurity is a daily reality for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Although its most extreme manifestations are often obvious, many other households facing constraints in their access to food are less identifiable. Operational agencies lack a method for differentiating households at varying degrees of food insecurity in order to target and evaluate their interventions. This chapter provides an overview of a set of papers associated with a research initiative that seeks to identify more precise, yet simple, measures of household food insecurity. The overview highlights three main conceptual developments associated with practical approaches to measuring constraints in access to food: 1) a shift from using measures of food availability and utilization to measuring "inadequate access"; 2) a shift from a focus on objective to subjective measures; and 3) a growing emphasis on fundamental measurement as opposed to reliance on distal, proxy measures. Further research is needed regarding 1) how well measures of household food insecurity designed for chronically food-insecure contexts capture the processes leading to, and experience of, acute food insecurity, 2) the impact of short-term shocks, such as major floods or earthquake, on household behaviors that determine responses to food security questions, 3) better measurement of the interaction between severity and frequency of household food insecurity behaviors, and 4) the determination of whether an individual's response to survey questions can be representative of the food insecurity experiences of all members of the household.

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          Developing Countries, Eating, Food Supply, Humans, Poverty


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