Food Security, Poverty and Nutrition Policy Analysis: Statistical Methods and Applications

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Food Security, Poverty and Nutrition Analysis provides essential insights into the evaluative techniques necessary for creating appropriate and effective policies and programs to address these worldwide issues. Food scientists and nutritionists will use this important information, presented in a conceptual framework and through case studies for exploring representative problems, identifying and implementing appropriate methods of measurement and analysis, understanding examples of policy applications, and gaining valuable insight into the multidisciplinary requirements of successful implementation.

This book provides core information in a format that provides not only the concept behind the method, but real-world applications giving the reader valuable, practical knowledge.

* Identify proper analysis method, apply to available data, develop appropriate policy
* Demonstrates analytical techniques using real-world scenario application to illustrate approaches for accurate evaluation improving understanding of practical application development
* Tests reader comprehension of the statistical and analytical understanding vital to the creation of solutions for food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty-related nutrition issues using hands-on exercises

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780123747129
  • Publisher: Elsevier Science
  • Publication date: 5/22/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 1.12 (d)

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Food Security, Poverty, and Nutrition Policy Analysis

Statistical Methods and Applications

Academic Press

Copyright © 2009 Elsevier Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-08-087886-7

Chapter One

Introduction to food security: concepts and measurement

The World Bank reports that global food prices rose 83% over the last three years and the FAO cites a 45% increase in their world food price index during just the past nine months. The Economist's comparable index stands at its highest point since it was originally formulated in 1845. As of March 2008, average world wheat prices were 130% above their level a year earlier, soy prices were 87% higher, rice had climbed 74%, and maize was up 31%.

Eric Holt Giménez and Loren Peabody, Institute for Food and Development Policy, May 16, 2008.

A common acceptable definition of food security exists. Yet, the concept of food security is understood and used differently depending on the context, timeframe and geographical region in question. In this chapter, we explore the definition and measurement of food security to provide a conceptual foundation to food security policy analysis. First, we introduce a widely used and well-accepted definition along with three core determinants of food security. Second, we explain the measurement of these determinants with examples of global, national and regional datasets that provide information on these determinants. Finally, we explore some alternative approaches to measuring food security indicators.

Conceptual framework of food security

Before examining the determinants of food security, understanding several concepts associated with the definition of food security is necessary. This is because many developing countries continue to suffer from chronic food insecurity and high levels of malnutrition and they are under constant threats of hunger caused by economic crises and natural disasters. Designing policies and programs to improve nutritional status requires an understanding of the factors that cause malnutrition, knowledge of the pathways in which these factors affect vulnerable groups and households and an awareness of policy options available to reduce the impact of these factors on hunger and malnutrition.

A multitude and complex set of factors determine nutritional outcomes. These factors have been identified and their linkages to nutrition have been elaborated on by Smith and Haddad (2000).

The food and nutrition policy-focused conceptual framework presented in Figure 1.1 identifies the causal factors of nutrition security and the food policy linkages to them. It also identifies the points of entry for direct and indirect nutrition programs and policy interventions as well as the capacity gaps for analysis and evaluation of food and nutrition policies and programs.

The framework was originally developed and successfully used for explaining child malnutrition (UNICEF, 1998; Haddad, 1999; Smith and Haddad, 2000). It was revised further to incorporate policy and program dimensions (Babu, 2001). Given the role of nutrition in the human life cycle, this framework attempts to encompass the life-cycle approach to nutrition. In addition, it includes the causes of nutrition security at both the macro and micro levels. As seen earlier in Figure 1.1, achieving food security at the macro level requires economic growth resulting in poverty alleviation and increased equity in the distribution of income among the population. In a predominantly agrarian economy, economic growth is driven by increases in agricultural productivity and, therefore, depends on the availability of natural resources, agricultural technology and human resources. These are depicted as potential resources at the bottom of Figure 1.1.

Agricultural technology and natural resources are necessary but, by themselves, are not sufficient to generate dynamic agricultural growth. Both policies that appropriately price the resources and allocate them efficiently along with stable investment in human and natural resources through political and legal institutions are necessary. These basic factors determine a set of underlying causes of nutrition security, i.e. food security, care and health. These three underlying causes are associated with a set of resources necessary for this achievement. Attaining food security is shown to be one of the key determinants of nutritional status of individuals. Food security is attained when all people have physical and economic access to sufficient food at all times to meet their dietary needs for a productive and healthy life (World Bank, 1986). While this definition is frequently applied at different levels, such as national, subnational and household levels, it is more meaningful to use this concept at the household level. Resources for achieving food security are influenced by both policies and programs that increase food production, provide income for food purchases and establish in-kind transfer of food through formal or informal supporting mechanisms.

Resources for the provision of care depend on policies and programs that increase the caregivers' access to income, strengthen their control of income use and improve their knowledge, adoption and practice of care. Care is the provision by households and communities of 'time, attention, and support to meet the physical, mental and social needs of a growing child and other household members' (ICN, 1992). Child feeding, health-seeking behavior, caring and supporting of mothers during pregnancy and breastfeeding are some examples of caring practices. Resources for health could be improved through policies and programs that increase the availability of safe water, sanitation, health care and environmental safety.

As mentioned earlier, food security that ensures a nutritionally adequate diet at all times and a care and health environment that ensures the biological utilization of food, jointly determines the nutrition security of individuals. Thus, the immediate causes of nutrition security are dietary intake of macronutrients (energy, protein, and fat), micronutrients and the health status of individuals. Adequate nutrition security for children results in the development of healthy adolescents and adults and contributes to the quality of human capital. Healthy female adults with continued nutrition security during pregnancy contribute to fewer incidences of low birth weight babies, thereby minimizing the probability of the babies becoming malnourished. In the case of adults, improved nutrition security, in terms of timely nutrient intakes, increases labor productivity (given opportunities for productive employment) thus resulting in reduced poverty. Lower prevalence of poverty increases the potential resources needed for attaining nutrition security. The next section examines the measurement and determinants of food security based on the above conceptual framework.

Measurement of the determinants of food security

'Food security' is a flexible concept and is usually applied at three levels of aggregation: national, regional and household or individual. At the 1996 World Food Summit, food security was defined as follows: 'Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life' (FAO, 1996). This definition is well accepted and widely used.

The three core determinants of food security are:

1. food availability

2. food access

3. food utilization.

The measurement of various indicators of food security is a first step in quantifying food security of the population. Various approaches are used to collect and document data on food security indicators. We provide a brief introduction to these measures and their data sources.

Food availability

Information on food availability usually comes from national, regional and subregional food balance sheets. This is obtained from the FAO food balance sheet database for individual countries and regions ( 502/default.aspx). However, food balance sheets provide no information on consumption patterns and relate only to the supply or availability of food at the national level (Becker and Helsing, 1991). They depict annual production of food, changes in food stocks and imports and exports and describe national dietary patterns in terms of the major food commodities. While they are useful to understand, aggregate indicators (such as macroeconomic and demographic factors) on food consumption, using the national food balance data, do not provide information on food security at the household level.

Measuring food availability

There is a variety of methods for measuring food availability. They are as diverse as participatory poverty profiles, principal component analysis and spatial econometric tools. The small-area estimation method developed by Hentschel et al. (2000) and Elbers et al. (2001) is one of the most common methods in measuring household food availability. It is a statistical tool that combines survey and census data to estimate welfare or other indicators for disaggregated geographical units (such as rural regions and municipalities). In this method, the first step is to estimate a model of household welfare using the household survey data. In the second step, the parameter estimates are applied to the census data assuming that the relationship holds for the entire population. The household level results are then aggregated by a larger geographical region or area by taking the mean of the probabilities for the area. This allows the researcher to construct maps for different levels of food insecurity disaggregated across geographic units.

Food access

What do we mean by food access? It could be physical access to food in the market or economic access to food at the household level. While food availability at the national and regional levels and the associated infrastructure such as roads and market outlets to buy food determine physical access to food, economic access depends on the purchasing power of the household and the existing level of food prices which could depend on the physical access to food (Thomson and Metz, 1998). A household's ability to spend on food is a good indicator of food access at the household level.

Measuring food access

Household food access is measured through food or nutrient intake at the household level. This is usually reported in 'adult equivalent' units to facilitate comparison among individuals within a household as well as among households. The adult equivalent unit is a system of weighting household members according to the calorie requirements for different age and sex groups. Household income and expenditure surveys that collect information on household composition, household expenditure patterns with a focus on food and non-food items, calorie intake, consumption of major products and socioeconomic characteristics (such as head of the household, household education level, etc.) can be used to assess food access over time, by estimating amounts of food consumed, composition of the diet and nutrient availability at the household and individual levels.

Food utilization

Food utilization relates to how food consumed is translated into nutritional and health benefits to the individuals. In this approach, the consumption of foods both in quantity and in quality that is sufficient to meet energy and nutrient requirements is a basic measure of food utilization.

The relationship between food security and nutrition security is depicted in Figure 1.1. It shows links between nutritional status and other determinants at the household level. In this framework, the nutritional status is an outcome of food intake and health status. However, the underlying causes of health (namely environmental conditions, health services and caring activities) are shown in different boxes due to their different underlying characteristics and features. A reduced state of health can be due to poor access to health care, poor housing and is possibly worsened by malnutrition, which makes individuals vulnerable to diseases. Thus, distinguishing between health services, caring activities and environmental factors is crucial in selecting appropriate intervention strategies to improve food utilization.

Measuring food utilization

Food intake data, following conversion to nutrient composition, are evaluated by comparing them with recommended intakes of energy and other nutrients. Two terminologies are essential in understanding this approach. Nutrient requirements are the levels of particular nutrients in the lowest amount that is necessary to maintain a person in good health. They vary between individuals, although the requirements of a group of similar individuals (age, sex, body size and physical activity) will fall within a certain range. Recommended intakes are the levels of nutrients that are thought to be high enough to meet the needs of all individuals within a similar group. WHO and FAO set this recommendation by taking the mean minimum requirement for a nutrient plus two standard deviations. Dietary guidelines are the linkages for the general public between recommended nutrient intakes and the translation of these recommendations to food based guidelines.

There is no one method for establishing the minimum requirement levels for nutrients and methods differ depending on the nutrient. Similarly, for the recommended intake levels, the usual guidelines are based on the estimates of the minimum requirements for a nutrient plus a standard additional amount. This amount is usually either two standard deviations or a fixed percentage increment of the mean requirement for the group. Since food balance sheet data are not very useful in describing dietary intake adequacy of a population and household surveys can provide limited information on the dietary adequacy of the household as a whole, the dietary intake approach yields precise application of standards or requirements to individual intake data.

Although food intake includes protein and other nutrients, energy intake is one of the main parameters and is extremely important in improving food utilization. Energy requirement for an individual is the amount of dietary energy (through food) needed to maintain health, growth and an appropriate level of physical activity (Torun, 1996). Since energy requirements are derived from data originating in healthy populations, they need to be adjusted in communities that suffer from malnutrition and other debilitating diseases. Estimates of energy requirements are usually based on energy expenditure data, although it is possible to obtain rough estimates on the basis of energy intake data from dietary surveys. For children, there is an additional allowance for growth.

In food security assessment, the group distribution of the individuals' energy and nutrient requirements is assumed to be normally distributed. The determinants of energy requirements include: basal metabolic rate (constituting between 60 and 70 per cent of total energy expenditure); physical activity; body size and composition; age; climate and ecological factors.

In the basal metabolic factor approach, energy requirement is computed as the product of the basal metabolic rate (BMR) and physical activity level. The basal metabolic rate is the minimal rate of energy expenditure required to maintain life. To calculate BMR, first individual oxygen consumption is measured and then converted into heat or energy output. Physical activity levels have been calculated for various occupational categories. A physical activity level of 1.55 to 1.65 is an average for most developed countries (Shetty et al., 1996).

The estimates of mean per capita energy requirement are thus dependent on the basal metabolic rates, physical activity levels, lactation, pregnancy, climate and the degree of malnutrition. Scientifically, the range varies from 1900 to 2500 kcal per day. The National Academy of Sciences (1995) has arrived at a figure of 2100 kcal per day for use in food emergency situations, which is based on an assumption of light activity.

Alternative approaches in measuring food security

Although the above approaches are the most common ways of measuring food security, some recent alternative approaches are also in vogue in measuring food security depending on context specificity. They are:

1. interaction approach

2. coping strategy/chronic vulnerability approach

3. scaling approach.


Excerpted from Food Security, Poverty, and Nutrition Policy Analysis Copyright © 2009 by Elsevier Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Academic Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Section I: Food Security Policy Analysis
Introduction to Section I: Food Security Policy Analysis
Chapter 1. Introduction to Food Security: Concepts and Measurement
Chapter 2. Implications of Technological Change, Post-Harvest Technology and Technology Adoption for Improved Food Security– Application of t- Statistic
Chapter 3. Effects of Commercialization of Agriculture (Shift from Traditional Crop to Cash Crop) on Food Consumption and Nutrition– Application of Chi-square
Chapter 4. Effects of Commercialization of Agriculture or Technology Adoption and Gender of Household Head: The Issue, its Importance in Food Security –
Application of Cramer’s V and Phi Coefficient Chapter 5. Changes in Food Consumption Patterns: The Issue and its Importance to
Food Security – Application of One-way ANOVA
Chapter 6. Impact of Market Access on Food Security – Application of Factor analysis

Section II: Nutrition Policy Analysis
Introduction to Section II: Nutrition Policy Analysis
Chapter 7. Impact of Maternal Education and Care on Preschoolers’ Nutrition – Application of Two-way ANOVA
Chapter 8. Indicators and Causal Factors of Nutrition – Application of Correlation Analysis
Chapter 9. Effects of Individual, Household and Community Indicators on Child’s Nutritional Status – Application of Simple Linear Regression Chapter 10. Female education and Community Characteristics as Indicators of
Nutritional Status of Children–Application of Multivariate Regression

Section III: Special Topics on Poverty, Nutrition, and Food Policy Analysis
Introduction to Section III: Special Topics on Poverty, Nutrition and Food Policy Analysis
Chapter 11. Predicting Child Nutritional Status Using related Socio-economic
Variables – Application of Discriminant Function Analysis
Chapter 12. Measurement and Determinants of Poverty- Application of Logistic Regression Models
Chapter 13. Classifying Households on Food Security and Poverty Dimensions – Application of K-mean Cluster Analysis
Chapter 14. Household Care as a Determinant of Nutritional Status- Application of Instrumental Variable Estimation
Chapter 15. Achieving an Ideal Diet – Modeling with Linear Programming

Technical Appendices

Statistical Tables


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