Why identifying households by degree of food insecurity matters for policymaking

Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, Mireya Vilar-Compte, Pablo Gaitan-Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Experience-based food insecurity (FI) indicators can be used to rank households or individuals across the continuum of levels of severity of FI. The objective of this article was to conduct a literature review to examine the policy relevance of reporting different levels of severity of FI. Reporting on different FI levels is key for targeting and evaluating policies and programs. In addition, there are dose-response or curvilinear relationships between FI levels and diverse physical and mental health outcomes, and early childhood development indicators. The process of introduction of FI experience-based measures in Latin America improved the understanding of the meaning of different FI levels among policymakers, media and population at large. Findings strongly suggest that FI can only be properly understood and addressed by assessing and reporting on all levels of severity of FI at the local, provincial, national, regional and global levels. Tracking and reporting trends of different FI levels is key during major economic shocks and public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100459
JournalGlobal Food Security
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Decision making
  • Food and nutrition systems
  • Food policy
  • Household food insecurity
  • Measurement


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