Probably the second most important will be whether the United States ever develops a meaningful energy policy. Other factors will include the extent of the economic recovery, the extent of unemployment, the degree to which national food system reforms occur (which relates to obesity), the extent to which global food production responds to demand, and the implementation of health care reform in the United States.

From 1999 until 2007, as can be seen in Figure 5-1, the proportion of U.S. households that were food insecure remained fairly stable, as did the racial and ethnic differences in the level of food insecurity. However, the proportion of food-insecure households increased substantially between 2007 and 2008, the first year of the great economic recession. During that year, the estimated number of children younger than 5 years of age living in food-insecure households increased from 3.54 million to 4.85 million (17.1 percent to 23.1 percent, respectively, of all U.S. children under 5 years). Unemployment was one of the major factors underlying this increase.

In view of the earlier session on obesity, Cook briefly mentioned reviews of the associations between food insecurity and obesity in children and said that findings from the studies have been mixed. He noted that the prevalence of obesity in children of ages 2 years and older essentially leveled off from 2004 to 2008.

FIGURE 5-1 Proportion of food-insecure U.S. households (with and without children) by race and ethnic background, 1999–2008.

FIGURE 5-1 Proportion of food-insecure U.S. households (with and without children) by race and ethnic background, 1999–2008.

SOURCE: USDA/ERS (2000, 2002a, 2002b, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009).



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