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Implications of Food Insecurity on Global Health Policy and Nursing Practice


Ms. Claudia M. Kregg-Byers., University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, 3500 Victoria Street, Room 212, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, 412-624-4587. Fax 412-624-2409. E-mail:


Purpose: The purpose is to discuss the concept of food insecurity (FI) and its impact on current global health policy and nursing practice.

Organizing Construct: Food insecurity.

Methods: Literature review.

Findings: FI means a nonsustainable food system that interferes with optimal self-reliance and social justice. Individuals experiencing FI lack nutritionally adequate and safe foods in their diet. Resources play a significant role in FI by affecting whether or not people obtain culturally, socially acceptable food through regular marketplace sources as opposed to severe coping strategies, such as emergency food sources, scavenging, and stealing. Persons who are living in poverty, female heads of household, single parents, people living with many siblings, landless people, migrants, immigrants, and those living in certain geographical regions constitute populations at risk and most vulnerable to FI.

Conclusions: FI influences economics through annual losses of gross domestic product due to reduced human productivity. FI affects individuals and households and is largely an unobservable condition, making data collection and analysis challenging. Policy and research have focused on macronutrient sufficiency and deprivation, making it difficult to draw attention and research dollars to FI.

Clinical Relevance: Persons experiencing FI exhibit clinical signs such as less healthy diets, poor health status, poor diabetes and chronic disease management, and impaired cognitive function. Nurses can recognize the physical, psychosocial, and personal consequences that those with FI face and manage daily.