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Food Insecurity in the United States: An Overview

Alaimo, Katherine PhD


Approximately 13 million American children and 23 million adults live in food-insecure households—households where there is “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate or safe foods”; and almost 10 million Americans experience hunger. During the past several decades, much progress has been made in our understanding of the prevalence, experience, and detrimental consequences of food insecurity and hunger for US families, adults, and children. This article reviews the latest research, offers a broad summary of the phenomena of food insecurity and hunger as they are experienced in the US, and proposes a policy-based research agenda for the future.

Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Corresponding author: Katherine Alaimo, PhD, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, G Malcolm Trout Building, Room 302C, Michigan St University, E Lansing, MI 48824 (e-mail:

Conceptualization of this overview began during the development, with Amy Froelich, of an article for the National Academy of Sciences, Committee on National Statistics, Panel to Review USDA's Measurement of Food Insecurity and Hunger presented on July 13, 2004.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.