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Hunger Statistics

Scroll down to view these hunger resources or click the link to download the PDF.

2013 Facts about Hunger: PDF

Hunger Glossary: PDF

Hunger Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Hunger?: PDF

Facts About Hunger

(Updated: July, 2016)

Hunger Around the World
  • (2015) The vast majority of hungry people (98 percent) live in developing countries, where almost 15 percent of the population is undernourished. Around three-quarters of these undernourished people live in low-income rural areas, principally in higher-risk farming areas. —World Food Programme (WFP)
  • 795 million out of the 7.3 billion people in the world suffer from chronic undernourishment. 780 million of the undernourished population lives in developing countries, which is about one in eight. —United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
  • Hunger kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined - FAO
  • Malnutrition involved with fetal growth restriction, stunting, wasting, and suboptimum breastfeeding cases 3.1 million child deaths each year. This was about 45% of all child deaths in 2011. -
  • About half of all stunted children from 2013 lived in Asia and over a third of Africa - United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
  • The 1996 World Food Summit targeted to halve the number of undernourished people (991 million) by 2015, and that number has decreased by 200 million. Although this goal was not met in 2015, incredible strides have been made in countries such as East Asia, South East Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean regions. - FAO
  • (2011) It costs just US$0.25 per day to provide a child with all of the vitamins and nutrients he or she needs to grow up healthy. —WFP
  • If women in rural areas had the same access to land, technology, financial services, education and markets as men, the number of hungry people could be reduced by up to 150 million. —FAO
  • (2012) It would cost US$3.5 billion to feed every hungry schoolchild in the world. That’s around two times the takings from the movie Titanic, which grossed US$1.8 billion worldwide. —WFP
  • India has the highest number of hungry people in the world, as 194 million, surpassing China – United Nations annual hunger report
  • One out of six children in developing countries is underweight.— WFP
  • One in four of the world’s children are stunted, though this number rises to one in three in developing countries. - WFP
  • 66 million primary school-age children across the developing world are hungry when they attend classes, with 23 million in Africa alone. US$3.2 billion would feed all of the hungry school-age children in the world for one year. —WFP
  • Undernutrition among pregnant women in developing countries leads to one in six infants born with low birth weight. This is a risk factor for neonatal deaths, learning disabilities, mental retardation, poor health, blindness, and premature death. - Stalker, H. T., and Richard F. Wilson. Peanuts: Genetics, Processing, and Utilization. Print./World Hunger Education Service (WHES)
  • Around half of the world’s hungry people are from smallholder farming communities, surviving off marginal lands prone to natural disasters like drought and flood. Another 20% are landless families and another 10% live in communities that depend on herding, fishing or foresting. —FAO
  • As of 2008, the World Bank has estimated that there were an estimated 1,345 million poor people in developing countries who live on $1.25 a day or less. —WHES
  • By causing poor health, low levels of energy, and even mental impairment, hunger can lead to even greater poverty by reducing people’s ability to work and learn, thus leading to even greater hunger. —WHES
  • One out of three people in developing countries are affected by vitamin and mineral deficiencies. —World Health Organization (WHO)
  • In 2014, 16,000 children under the age of 5 died every day, and nearly half of those deaths were tied to hunger. That’s about one child every 10 seconds. —30 Hour Famine
Hunger in the US
  • As of 2015, about 14% of American households were food insecure during the year. Food insecurity means these families lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life. – United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • 48 million Americans are at risk of hunger – Feeding America
  • The average cost of a meal in the US is $2.89 – Feeding America
  • Ninety percent of all counties in the US have a majority of food-insecure children living in households with incomes at or below the federal poverty line. —Feeding America
  • One in six people in America face hunger.
Do Something
  • 3% of the world’s population is hungry. That’s roughly 805 million people who go undernourished on a daily basis, consuming less than the recommended 2,100 calories a day.
  • The world produces enough food to feed all 7 billion people, but those who go hungry either do not have land to grow food or money to purchase it.
  • 10 countries that have achieved greatest success in reducing the total number of hungry people in proportion to their national population are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cuba, Georgia, Ghana, Kuwait, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Thailand and Venezuela.
  • Poverty is the principal cause of hunger. Poverty is cause by a lack of resources, an extremely unequal income distribution in the world and within specific countries, conflict, and hunger itself.
  • In 2010, an estimated 7.6 million children — more than 20,000 a day — died. Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of these deaths.
  • While hunger exists worldwide, 526 million hungry people live in Asia.
  • Over a quarter of the world's undernourished people live in Sub-Saharan Africa. That’s about one in four people in this region that is chronically hungry.
  • When a mother is undernourished during pregnancy, the baby is often born undernourished, too. Every year, 17 million children are born this way due to a mother’s lack of nutrition before and during pregnancy.
  • Similarly, women in hunger are so deficient of basic nutrients (like iron) that 315,000 die during childbirth from hemorrhaging every year.


Hunger Glossary

Food Sovereignty: a movement that seeks to establish the rights of those who grow food to determine what foods to grow, how food is grown, and how and by whom foods are produced, processed and distributed. It also seeks to provide fair compensation for those involved in bringing food to our tables. For those who eat (which is everybody), it is the right to know where your food comes from, how the food was produced, and therefore how safe and healthy it is. It would also include knowledge about who benefited from the food’s production and distribution. (See Hunger News & Hope, Vol 12 No 4. The eight-page section on Food Sovereignty begins on page 5.)

Feeding Program: a federal, school or private program or agency that serves meals to hungry people.

Food Desert: a district, usually a low-income area, where healthy, nutritious food is difficult to obtain. The Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as a low-income census tract where a substantial number of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. The residents are often much closer to fast-food restaurants and convenience stores.

Food Rescue: the practice of obtaining prepared food from restaurants, packaging it according to health codes, and making it available to feeding programs.

Food Security: having enough food to be healthy and productive. The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” According to the United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO), food security is built on three pillars: food availability, food access and appropriate food use. Census workers in the US use the terms “high food security,” “marginal food security,” “low food security” and “very low food security.” According to the USDA, a household has very low food security if the food intake of one or more household members is reduced or disrupted at times during the year because the household lacks the money or other resources for food.

Foodies: people who spend a significant amount of energy on gaining information about the ingredients, nutritional value and origin of food dishes. (See "All about Foodies," Hunger News & Hope, Vol 12 No 4, page 11.)

Hunger: the body’s way of signaling that it is running short of food and needs to eat something. According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the average person needs 1,200 calories a day to lead a healthy life.

Malnutrition/Undernutrition: a state in which the physical function of an individual is impaired by lack of nutrition, to the point where he or she can no longer maintain natural bodily capacities such as growth, pregnancy, lactation, learning abilities, physical work and resisting and recovering from disease. The term covers a range of problems: being dangerously thin (see Underweight), too short for one’s age (see Stunting), being deficient in specific vitamins or minerals, or being obese. A person can be obese and still be malnourished.

Protein energy malnutrition: a form of malnutrition measured not by how much food is eaten but by physical measurements of the body, such as weight, height, or age (see Stunting, Wasting, Underweight).

SNAP: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program), a federal program in the US administered by the USDA.

Stunting: a condition that reflects shortness-for-age. This is an indicator of chronic malnutrition and is calculated by comparing the height-for-age of a child with a reference population of well-nourished and healthy children.

Undernourishment: the status of people whose food intake does not include enough calories to meet minimum physiological needs. The term is a measure of a country’s ability to gain access to food and is normally derived from Food Balance Sheets prepared by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Underweight: a state measured by comparing the weight-for-age of a child with a reference population of well-nourished and healthy children. It is estimated that the deaths of almost 4 million children aged less than five are associated with the underweight status of the children themselves or their mothers.

Urban Gardening: also known as urban horticulture or urban agriculture; the process of growing plants of all types and varieties in an urban environment. Some types of urban gardening include container gardening (the use of a variety of containers for growing plants in city balconies or on patios), indoor gardening, community gardening, “guerilla” gardening (a somewhat subversive effort to grow plants in public spaces like vacant lots or highway medians), and roof gardening.

Wasting: a state reflecting a recent and severe process that has led to substantial weight loss, usually associated with starvation and/or disease. Wasting is calculated by comparing weight-for-height of a child with a reference population of well-nourished and healthy children. Often used to assess the severity of emergencies because it is strongly related to mortality.

WIC: the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, a federal program in the US administered by the USDA. The WIC program has been shown to save $5 in future social services for every $1 it spends.


Hunger IQ: Test your hunger knowledge by taking the following quiz.

1. One in ___ Americans do not have access to enough food.
A. 5 B. 2 C. 6 D. 8

2. True or False: The lack of adequate nutrition affects a child’s cognitive, physical and behavioral development.
A. True B. False

3. Approximately how much of the population in developing countries is undernourished?
A. 15 percent B. 20 percent C. 10 percent D. 5 percent

4. How many US dollars does it cost per day to provide a child with all of the vitamins and nutrients he or she needs to grow up healthy?
A. $1.00 B. $5.00 C. $0.25 D. $10.00

5. How many people in the world do not have enough to eat?
A. 50 million B. 100 million C. 500 million D. 870 million

6. What percentage of deaths in children under the age of 5 in developing countries is linked to undernutrition?
A. one-third B. one-half C. one-fourth D. one-eighth

7. 1,345 million people in developing countries live on $____ per day or less.
A. $0.40 B. $1.25 C. $1.00 D. $0.75

8. True or False: A key cause of food insecurity in the United States is the lack of sufficient resources to cover the cost of food in addition to meeting other basic needs.
A. True B. False

9. How much do low-income households spend on food?
A. 18.5 percent B. 20 percent C. 16.4 percent D. 10 percent

10. One in _____ people will go to bed hungry tonight.
A. eight B. six C. ten D. five

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