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Food security: definition and measurement


The term “food security” has been used over time to mean different things. This brief article discusses the various meanings attached to the concept and suggests that it can be a useful measure of household and individual welfare, particularly if combined with estimates of household food aquisition and allocation behavior. If nutritional security is the goal of interest, estimates of access to food should be combined with estimates of access to clean water and good sanitation. Anthrometric measures are likely to be more appropriate than food security estimates to target policies and programs to improved child nutrition.

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  1. 1.

    FAO (1996) Declaration on world food security. World Food Summit, FAO, Rome.

  2. 2.

    Nord M, Andrews M, Carlson S (2004) Household food security in the United States, 2003. ERS Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Report No. 42, USDA, Washington, DC.

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Correspondence to Per Pinstrup-Andersen.

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Pinstrup-Andersen, P. Food security: definition and measurement. Food Sec. 1, 5–7 (2009).

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  • Food security
  • Definition
  • Measurement
  • Energy
  • Nutrient requirements