Women's Health USA 2007
Photographs of women's faces

Population Characteristics

Food Security

Food security is defined as having access at all times to enough nutritionally adequate and safe foods to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. Food security and hunger are measured in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) through a series of questions including whether the respondent worried that food would run out before there would be money to buy more; whether the respondent or his/her family could not afford to eat balanced meals; whether the respondent or his/her family cut the size of meals or skipped meals because there was not enough money for food; and whether the respondent or his/her family ever went for a whole day without eating because there was not enough food. For many of these questions, respondents were asked how often these situations arose. Cases with occasional or episodic food insecurity and/or hunger were more frequently reported than those with chronic situations; however, any degree of food insecurity places the members of a household at greater nutritional risk due to insufficient access to nutritionally adequate and safe foods.

In 200304, over 17 percent of women were not fully food secure, and this varied noticeably by race and ethnicity. Among women, non-Hispanic Whites were most likely to be fully food secure (88.4 percent), while Hispanics were least likely (60.5 percent). Hispanic women also had the highest rate of food insecurity without hunger (18.9 percent). Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women had similarly high rates of being marginally food secure (11.8 and 11.3 percent) and food insecure with hunger (10.4 and 9.4 percent, respectively).

While nearly 83 percent of women are fully food secure, only 61.5 percent of women with family incomes below the Federal poverty level (FPL) and 71.0 percent of women with incomes of 100199 percent of the FPL were fully food secure in 200304. Comparatively, nearly 99 percent of women with family incomes of 400 percent or more of the FPL were fully food secure (data not shown).

 
   

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Women's Health USA 2007 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2007. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007.