Food insecurity affects 10.3 million Brazilians

Severe food insecurity—a plight where people report to be actually starving—affected 4.6 percent of Brazilian households, or 3.1 million homes in 2017–2018. This percentage means that 10.3 million people living in households under such circumstances, 7.7 million of whom in urban areas and 2.6 million in the country.

The data can be found in the Survey on Family Budgeting 2018–2018: an Assessment of Food Security in Brazil, published today (Sep. 17) by the government’s statistics agency IBGE. Severe insecurity is brought about when residents experience severe deprivation in the consumption of food, which may lead to starvation.

In 2017–2018, of the 68.9 million households in Brazil, 36.7 percent (25.3 million homes), were affected to some degree by food insecurity: slightly (24 percent, or 16.4 million), moderately (8.1 percent, pr 5.6 million), or severely (4.6 percent, or 3.1 million).

According to the IBGE, in the population of 2017–2018, comprised of 207.1 million people, 122.2 million lived in households with food insecurity, whereas 84.9 million facing some food insecurity were distributed thus: 56 million in households with light food insecurity, 18.6 million in households with moderate food insecurity, and 10.3 million living in households with severe food insecurity.

As per the Brazilian Scale of Direct and Household Measurement of Food Insecurity, food security is guaranteed when family has regular and permanent access to quality foods in a large enough amount, with no risks posed to other essential needs.

In light food insecurity, there is concern or an uncertainty regarding access to food in the future and the inadequate quality of foods stemming from strategies aimed at not reducing food quantity. In its moderate version, there is quantitative reduction of food among adults and/or a split with eating standards resulting from the shortage of food.

With severe food insecurity, there is a severe quantitative reduction in foodstuffs also among children—in other words, a breach in eating standards stemming from a shortage of food among all residents. Under such circumstances, starvation is experienced in the household.

The national prevalence of food security was 65.1 percent of Brazilian households in 2004; it grew to 69.8 percent in 2009 and to 77.4 percent in 2013. In the latest study, 2017–2018, this prevalence slipped to 63.3 percent. Compared to 2013, light food insecurity had a slight 62.2 percent increase, moderate went up 75.1 percent, and severe by 43.7 percent in 2017–2018.

The aggravation of food insecurity is linked, among other reasons, to the slowdown in the economic activity from the years 2017 through 2018, argued survey manager André Martins.