Progress in addressing the problems of hunger and malnutrition has been slow and uneven across regions and countries of the world. A rights-based perspective, not merely a utilitarian argument, must serve as the rationale for humans to be properly nourished. Rights impose corresponding binding obligations on others and the concept of rights holders and duty bearers goes beyond the human development paradigm. The right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child, alone or in community with others, has physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement. As duty bearers, governments are obligated to assure the realization of that right and accountable if the right is violated. The use of the human rights approach to adequate food necessarily implies a re-examination and fundamental changes in the way we think about hunger and malnutrition and their causes; the manner of shaping and reshaping policies; the context and processes of planning, monitoring and evaluating programmes; and the substance and method of research and education in food and nutrition. Dietitians and dietetic associations can be instrumental in making the human right to adequate food a reality.