and a socioeconomic component—“the recurrent and involuntary lack of access to food.”
The current set of questions used in the survey to measure food uncertainty includes questions relating to each of these concepts. Question 1 in Box 2-1 asks about food insecurity—that is, it directly asks whether the respondent worried about the food running out before there was money to pay for more. Questions 2-6 imply food insufficiency (e.g., cutting the size of meals, couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals). Finally, question 7 asks directly about hunger. The remaining questions (8-10) do not specifically ask about hunger. These questions could be considered as indicating “food insufficiency” because they imply an insufficient quantity of food. They may also imply hunger.
Another important concern with food insecurity measures is that all three concepts are measured in a household survey and households are classified into the three dimensions of food security, even though the concepts themselves may not be appropriately measured at the level of the household. The concepts of food uncertainty and food insufficiency are really household-level concepts. Each implies decisions about household resource allocation (e.g., how much of a limited budget can be spent on food compared with other goods and how much of the food budget is spent for food for different household members). Worrying about having enough money to pay for food is a response that considers constraints on the household’s resources. Cutting meal size and not being able to afford a balanced meal are also adaptations made with consideration of the entire household’s resources. In contrast, hunger is experienced by individuals, not households, although everyone in the household could individually experience hunger.
Food uncertainty, food insufficiency, and hunger are different and separate concepts, although they are certainly related. The appropriate questions and methods to measure these concepts therefore may be quite different as well. The current method used to estimate the prevalence of food security status does not delineate these concepts, that is, responses to questions about food uncertainty and food insufficiency are totaled with responses to questions about hunger, and each response contributes equally to the estimates of the prevalence of food insecurity.