What Is Food Insecurity? - Definition, Impact & Prevention Efforts

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  • 0:07 Food Security and Insecurity
  • 1:23 Causes of Food Insecurity
  • 3:05 Combatting Food Insecurity
  • 5:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Margaret Cunningham

Margaret has taught many Biology and Environmental Science courses and has Master's degrees in Environmental Science and Education.

Although every human on Earth has to eat to survive, the amount of food consumed varies a great deal by region. In this lesson, we will explore the concept of food insecurity and the issues that are causing it. We will also discuss prevention methods in place to try to combat food insecurity.

Food Security and Insecurity

How many calories do you consume in a given day? To live a healthy and productive life, it is recommended that people consume around 2,200 kilocalories each day. When you look at the human population as a whole, the average person consumes around 3,000 kilocalories per day, and people who live in industrialized countries have been reported to consume even more.

Although the average person consumes more than enough calories to remain healthy, and, worldwide, enough food is produced to feed the entire human population, the distribution of food is not even. It is estimated that currently over 850 million people are living on daily diets of much less than the recommended amount.

This uneven distribution of food is a major problem for the entire human population because it threatens food security. Food security is when a person is able to obtain a sufficient amount of healthy food on a day-to-day basis. People who do not consume enough food each day suffer from food insecurity, which is when a person is unable to obtain a sufficient amount of healthy food on a day-to-day basis. As a result of food insecurity, people suffer from chronic hunger and poor nutrition, and are, therefore, less likely to have healthy and productive lives.

Causes of Food Insecurity

Now that we know what food insecurity is, what do you think is the cause behind it? It is widely agreed upon that the main cause of food insecurity is poverty. Poverty makes it very difficult for people to grow their own food and also to buy enough food. Currently, it is estimated that over 1.5 billion people live on less than $1 a day, and are, therefore, unable to buy enough food to keep them healthy. Due to the low-income levels in many areas, it is also not possible for people to grow their own food because they do not have money to invest in agriculture.

The second leading cause of food insecurity is the growth of the human population. The human population has been growing steadily, and the amount of food needed to feed the population has also increased. Overall, the human population is expected to increase by about 2 billion people by 2050, and this will put a serious strain on the availability of food. Although currently enough food is produced to feed every human on Earth, as populations grow, the amount of people suffering from food insecurity will increase.

The increase in the human population will be particularly difficult in poor countries where people already struggle to obtain food and will have more trouble as the population increases. Additionally, the growing population can also influence food insecurity by limiting the amount of food available for consumption. As the human population increases, there is a higher demand for alternative fuel sources, such as biofuels. In recent years, this demand has led to large amounts of corn being used to create biofuels, thus reducing the amount of corn available to feed people.

Combatting Food Insecurity

As population sizes increase and poverty continues, food insecurity remains a large challenge that will need to be handled. There are several efforts in place to combat food insecurity and to achieve a state of global sustainability, which is when the human population as a whole can use the resources on Earth to meet current needs while not compromising the needs of future generations.

One method to try and combat food insecurity is to provide aid and relief to people or countries that are suffering. In the United States, the Food Stamp Program was established to help people with low-income status pay for food. An organization called Feeding America was also developed to help collect and distribute donated food items to people in need.

On the global scale, many poor countries have been given incentives by wealthier countries or organizations to increase their own food production. The World Bank provides grants to poor countries to increase their agriculture systems and food supplies. Wealthy countries have also provided aid to poor countries by offering debt relief so that the country can spend money on producing its own food instead of paying back debt.

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