The term food security means the availability of food and access to food. Food security is said to be realized when people have physical, social and economic access to adequate, safe and nutritional food that can effectively meet the food choices and dietary needs of an individual for a healthy and happy life. While food security is often the result of poverty and low income, it has significant implications for the health and nutrition of an individual. Women have been playing a vital role in food production across the world at several levels. They are the principal child bearers and caretakers. Today we find a large number of female-headed houses worldwide. Surprisingly, they have a disproportionate economics status when compared to males. Hence a discussion on food insecurity concerning women and its implications for their health, nutrition, and behavior is of great importance.
The results of food insecurity
Some of the effects of food insecurity in women could be anxiety, obesity, depression, perverted sexual behaviors, inability to cope up with the life around, and adverse pregnancy results. More research is called for in the areas of how food insecurity can affect weight, nutritional outcomes, a progression of some deadly diseases, and pregnancy outcomes. However, pragmatically speaking, we are in need of short-term support and long-term plans that can help improve the livelihoods of women, address their coping and behavioral strategies, remedy the psychological issues resulting from food insecurity and make sure that women also enjoy the same access to quality food like most men.
Why this discussion?
Discussion of food insecurity with particular regard to women is essential more so because, in developing countries, women are producing up to 80 percent of food. While women in total have been contributing to more than one-half of the world’s total food production, they have more difficulties than men to access the resources like credit, land and agricultural services and inputs. Besides being addressed as an independent entity, food insecurity must also be identified as an essential determinant of nutrition and health outcomes. The findings of such a study can guide the policy and programming of schemes to improve food security for women.
Study reports regarding women and food insecurity
For quite some time, the data we can collect show that women are more vulnerable to food insecurity and the nutritional and health consequences forced by food insecurity. A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows us that reveals that the rate of household food insecurity is more (about 30.3 percent) in households headed by single mothers with children and also concerning (14.7 percent) in the homes of women living alone. A considerable body of evidence suggests us that food insecurity has a profoundly damaging impact on the health and well-being of children with both short term and long term implications. The effects of food insecurity are found to strike women than others.
Let us analyze the problem of obesity. Some literature reviews show us that there is a higher risk of obesity among women faced with food insecurity, whereas the figures are not that much in case of food-insecure men and children. Several factors help make connections between these two factors. Mothers confronting the pangs of hunger are seen sacrificing their quality of nutrition for the sake of saving their children from starvation, this can enhance the mother’s risk of obesity.
Another serious risk that many women face across the world is maternal depression, which is often the direct consequence of food insecurity. During pregnancy, food insecurity can lead to a variety of conditions like iron deficiency, gestational diabetes, and low weight of the baby during birth.
Steps to mitigate food insecurity
The principal objective of federal nutrition programs is to pave the way for food security. These programs aim at remedying the physical, mental and health implications of food insecurity. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) extends its assistance to women to get more dollars for their food for the sake of guaranteeing the amount of nutrition their household needs for active and healthy living.
Outcomes of SNAP
Some of the recent studies published by the Children’s HealthWatch show us that SNAP helped the mothers of children in the households facing food insecurity to overcome maternal depression and enhance their overall health more than those mothers in homes that were not receiving SNAP assistance.
A lot of supporters of SNAP have been able to prove the positive impacts of SNAP on families and individuals. However, the SNAP benefits are not adequate to accomplish their job thoroughly. The value of the National average monthly interest is not more than $4.25 per day which will work out to $1.40 per meal. It is essential to press the policymakers to increase the monthly SNAP benefits considerably so that it can help women to become more food secure, healthier and more financially stable.
Also, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) help the pregnant women with low income, new mothers, young children, and infants gain access to nutrition education and nutritious foods. It also enhances the access to healthcare for preventing health problems during pregnancy, infancy and early childhood that are the result of poor nutrition. The positive benefits of WIC on the health of women and children cannot be overstated.