What are we assessing when we measure food security? A compendium and review of current metrics

Andrew D. Jones*, Francis M. Ngure, Gretel Pelto, Sera L. Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

486 Scopus citations


The appropriate measurement of food security is critical for targeting food and economic aid; supporting early famine warning and global monitoring systems; evaluating nutrition, health, and development programs; and informing government policy across many sectors. This important work is complicated by the multiple approaches and tools for assessing food security. In response, we have prepared a compendium and review of food security assessment tools in which we review issues of terminology, measurement, and validation. We begin by describing the evolving definition of food security and use this discussion to frame a review of the current landscape of measurement tools available for assessing food security. We critically assess the purpose/s of these tools, the domains of food security assessed by each, the conceptualizations of food security that underpin each metric, as well as the approaches that have been used to validate these metrics. Specifically, we describe measurement tools that 1) provide national-level estimates of food security, 2) inform global monitoring and early warning systems, 3) assess household food access and acquisition, and 4) measure food consumption and utilization. After describing a number of outstanding measurement challenges that might be addressed in future research, we conclude by offering suggestions to guide the selection of appropriate food security metrics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-505
Number of pages25
JournalAdvances in Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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