Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title Measuring hunger and malnutrition
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2002
URL http://www.tulane.edu/~internut/Documents/Mason proofs Jan 21 2003.pdf
Abstract
Five types of methods are used for assessing the extent of hunger and malnutrition, each having different applications and comparative advantages in terms of uses for advocacy, policy analysis and decisions, and research. Three of these, the FAO method, household income and expenditure surveys (HIES) and food intake surveys (FIS), estimate dietary intake and try to relate this to energy needs, of which physical activity is the largest single component yet the least measurable. The fourth assesses perceptions of hunger and behavioural response (qualitative methods), and the fifth measures physical effects on growth and thinness (anthropometry). Not only is there no absolute measure (or “gold standard”), but these methods assess different aspects of hunger and dimensions of its effects on health, suffering, behaviour and economics. None the less, triangulating on trends in “hunger” is a reasonable goal and is the underlying intent of the internationally agreed upon obligation to accelerate the reduction in the numbers of people affected. In principle, the ways ahead are suggested as: shifting towards trend assessment based on patterns of related indicators that capture different dimensions of hunger; estimating global and regional trends every few years with the current FAO methods, with more detailed assessments in selected (“sentinel”) countries through household and individual surveys; developing qualitative methods in the local contexts and starting to use these as modules in other surveys; using smallscale studies for policy and causality research; and balancing resource allocations based on required outputs and decision needs.

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