cash to meet basic needs, offset risk, ease shocks, and meet contingencies (Pelletier et al., 2001; Rose et al., 1995). For example, people in households may consume less food in the present to preserve assets and future ability to make their living, or people may forgo some food to be able to buy medication to treat illness (Wolfe et al., 2003). A full understanding of food insecurity requires incorporation of the time element—both in the sense of the periodicity of occurrence of various needs and events and in the sense of the frequency and duration of episodes (Maxwell and Frankenberger, 1992). Frequency and duration are therefore important elements for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to consider in the operational definition and measurement of household food insecurity and individual hunger. (This issue is discussed further in Chapter 4.)


Research has shown that food insecurity is associated with adverse health and developmental outcomes in children and adults that are both nutritional and nonnutritional in nature.2 Food insecurity is associated with higher prevalence of inadequate intake of key nutrients (Rose, Habicht, and Devaney, 1998; Casey, Szeto, Lansing, Bogle, and Weber, 2001; Lee and Frongillo, 2001a; Adams, Grummer-Strawn, and Chavez, 2003), risk of overweight in women and some girls (Olson, 1999; Alaimo, Olson, and Frongillo, 2001a; Laitinen, Power, and Javelin, 2001; Townsend, Peerson, Love, Achterberg, and Murphy, 2001), depressive symptoms in adolescents (Alaimo, Olson, and Frongillo, 2002), and academic and social developmental delays in children (Kleinman et al., 1998; Murphy et al., 1998; Alaimo et al., 2001b; Reid, 2001; Stormer and Harrison, 2003; Ashiabi, 2005). Data from a longitudinal study of welfare recipients show that household food insecurity is associated with poor physical and mental health of low-income black and white women (Siefert, Heflin, Corcoran, and Williams, 2004). Food insecurity is also associated with more behavioral problems (Olson, 1999; Shook Slack and Yoo, 2004), poorer school performance (Olson, 1999; Alaimo et al., 2001b; Dunifon and Kowaleski-Jones, 2003), and adverse health outcomes (Alaimo, Olson, Frongillo, and Briefel, 2001c; Cook et al., 2004; Weinreb et al., 2005) in children. Data from the Early Child Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class show that reporting at least one indicator of food insecurity was significantly associated with impaired learning in mathematics from fall to spring of the kindergarten year (Winicki and Jemison, 2003) and with impaired learning in reading from kindergarten to third grade (Jyoti, Frongillo, and Jones, 2005).


The panel does not attempt to present a comprehensive review of all possible literature on the subject.

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