Although Americans live in a land of low-cost calories, many lack a reliable source of healthy food in an amount sufficient for active living. Food insecurity exists when any member of a household has limited or uncertain access to nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire healthful foods in socially acceptable ways.
According to the USDA, 14 percent of U.S. households experienced food insecurity at some point in 2011, and 5.7 percent experienced hunger. Poverty is the most significant predictor of food insecurity, with over a third of food-insecure families living below the poverty line.
Though on the surface it might seem that inability to afford food would keep people thin, food insecurity has been linked to higher rates of overweight, obesity and diabetes among women and children. Additional research is needed to clarify the relationship between obesity and moderate or severe food insecurity among various demographic groups. Studying this link should also include discussion of the effects of participation in food assistance and nutrition programs on weight gain and health.