Action needed to tackle US food insecurity, says ADA

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

Systematic and sustained action is needed to eliminate food insecurity in the United States, according to a new position paper from the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as: “Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.”

According to the ADA, 49 million Americans – about 15 percent of the population – experienced food insecurity at some point during 2008. It released a new position paper last week, calling for better funding and access to nutrition programs, in light of the trend for prevalence of food insecurity to worsen during times of recession.

It said that it had decided to update its position as the nation continues to fall short of the Healthy People 2010 ​objective that 94 percent of the US population should be food secure.

“To eliminate food insecurity, interventions are needed, including adequate funding for and increased utilization of food and nutrition assistance programs, inclusion of food and nutrition education in such programs, and innovative programs to promote and support individual and household economic self-sufficiency,”​ the ADA said.

The association also examined some of the problems connected with food insecurity. “In addition, several studies have furthered our understanding of nutrition and non-nutrition-related outcomes of food insecurity, including overweight and obesity, and reinforced that food insecurity is of high priority for public health action,”​ it said.

As well as the number of Americans who are food insecure, the ADA found that 5.7 percent of the population – representing 17.3m people – has “very low food security”,​ defined as “multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake."

It said that although those experiencing food insecurity are more likely to use emergency food suppliers, about 70 percent of food insecure households do not use them, even if they are aware of one in their area.

Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association

Doi 10.1016/j.jada.2010.07.015 pp.1368-1377

“Position of the American Dietetic Association: Food Insecurity in the United States”

Author: David Holben

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