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Invited Commentary
March 2017

Food Insecurity and “Unexplained” Weight Loss

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, Center for Vulnerable Populations, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California
  • 2Feeding America, Washington, DC
JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(3):421-422. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.8697

More than 42 million adults and children in the United States live in food-insecure households, lacking reliable access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food insecurity encompasses the physical sensation of hunger, worry about running out of food, and coping strategies engaged to avoid hunger (such as eating inexpensive and highly filling foods). The US Department of Agriculture recognizes 2 levels of food insecurity: low and very low food security. For the more than 27 million low-food-secure individuals, limited resources for food demand difficult choices in food quality, but quantity is generally adequate to maintain caloric needs. Raut and colleagues1 present a patient with weight loss and recurrent falls attributable to food insecurity severe enough to force not just a reduction in food quality, but in quantity (ie, calories) as well. This patient is among the more than 14 million very low-food-secure Americans.

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