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Medical News and Perspectives
October 24/31, 2007

Food Insecurity Harms Health, Well-being of Millions in the United States

JAMA. 2007;298(16):1851-1853. doi:10.1001/jama.298.16.1851

Nutrition is paramount to health and survival, yet many individuals and families struggle to maintain a healthy diet, especially those with low incomes. Nearly 12.6 million households (11%) in the United States were “food insecure” at times during 2005, meaning they were without the resources to feed themselves enough or were unable for economic reasons to purchase healthful foods, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Most, but not all, of the world's undernourished people live outside the United States, in poor countries. According to a report by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, in 2001 to 2003, 820 million of the 854 million undernourished people worldwide were in developing countries, 25 million in the transitional countries, and 9 million in the industrialized countries (http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/a0750e/a0750e00.htm). In the United States, food insecurity tends to be higher among households with incomes near or below the federal poverty line, households headed by single women with children, and black and Hispanic households.

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