Population Characteristics

Food Security

In 1999-2002, over 15 percent of women were not fully food secure, meaning that they did not always have access to enough food for a healthy, active lifestyle. In the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), food security and hunger are measured through a series of questions including: whether the respondent worried that food would run out before there would be money to buy more; whether the respondent or his/her family could not afford to eat balanced meals; whether the respondent or his/her family cut the size of meals or skipped meals because there was not enough money for food; and, whether the respondent or his/her family ever went for a whole day without eating because there was not enough food. For many of these questions, respondents were asked how often these situations arose. It should be noted that in many cases the situation is occasional or episodic, not chronic.

Although there is little difference in food security and hunger among men and women, rates varied noticeably by race and ethnicity. Among women, non-Hispanic Whites were most likely to be fully food secure (90.0 percent), while Hispanics were least likely (65.3 percent). Hispanic women also had the highest rates of marginal food security (15.3 percent), food insecurity without hunger (13.0 percent), and food insecurity with hunger (6.4 percent), while non-Hispanic Whites had the lowest rates in each category.

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Women's Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.