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Measuring Food Insecurity and Hunger: Phase 1 Report
the desired types of food to actual shortage leading to the experience of hunger as defined by USDA. This range of severity is intended to measure and assign people to the three categories of food security, food insecurity without hunger, and food insecurity with hunger described in Chapter 2. The concepts underlying these categories are complex and multifaceted, which is why a scale based on multiple questions was chosen as the method to estimate the prevalence of food security. In the judgment of the panel, a clear conceptual basis does not exist for some of these concepts and the questions may not be well suited to measure these concepts.
Measurement of the Concepts
The measurement of food security (and insecurity) as currently defined includes three separate concepts:
Uncertainty about being able to obtain food in socially acceptable ways due to a lack of resources, causing worry and mental, emotional, and physical stress. This worry and uncertainty may also result in changes in behavior—for example, changes in the allocation of time and resources.
Insufficiency in (or lack of access to) the quantity and quality of nutritionally adequate and safe foods. This concept includes two ideas: lack of access to the nutritionally appropriate foods and lack of access to desired types of foods. It is separate and different from worrying about food, since there is an actual reduction in the quantity or quality of foods—or both. Whereas uncertainty about obtaining food in socially acceptable ways may or may not lead to changes in behaviors, insufficiency results in an actual reduction in the quantity and or quality of foods. Insufficiency does not necessarily imply hunger because one could lack access to nutritional or desired foods and still not experience hunger.
The definition of the concept of hunger used in the current food security measure incorporates both a physiological component—“the uneasy, painful sensation caused by a lack of food”