Food Security

This video provides a simple introduction to food security.

Why is nutrition so important to the health of a population?
First, it impacts many health problems. There is a broad range of health problems associated with nutritional status, from undernutrition on the one hand, to obesity on the other. In fact, if we consider all people in the world, more than 50% live in a country where obesity (and its related risk factors and health consequences) take more lives than undernutrition. In many of the countries of South Asia, the co-existence of both problems reflect what we know about the ‘double burden’ of disease.  Second, it impacts many age groups. Nutritional problems exert a particularly disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable (e.g., young and old, women of reproductive age, pregnant women). In fact, if we were to just consider under-5 mortality in children globally, about 45% is directly or indirectly related to undernutrition.

What is food security?
Food security describes a situation in which all people have access to food which is safe, nutritious and plentiful. As defined in the 2009 Declaration of the World Summit on Food Security: “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”  There are four dimensions of food security—availability, access, utilization, and stability—which, together, reflect the myriad social determinants that affect a population's nutritional status.

Why is food security so important?
Food security is so important because it represents an important set of determinants of health (i.e., influential factors outside the health sector—economic, political, social—on health), specifically those related to nutrition. In the case of food security, these ‘influential factors’ or ‘determinants’ are a result of circumstances that are both local and global.