001 - Global food patterns and indicators

Geographic Knowledge and Understanding

Global patterns in food/nutrition indicators, including the food security index, the hunger index, calories per person/capita, indicators of malnutrition.


Measuring global food disparities creates connections between places.


Key Terminology

All of the key terms will be defined throughout the course of the lesson.

Activity One - Watch

Today, more food is produced than ever before. In fact, the world produces enough grain to provide everyone with over 3000 calories of food a day and that is without taking into account all of the other food stocks that are produced (Codrington, 2017). So why is it that hunger and food insecurity is a thing?  It is important to initially explore why we are looking into the amount and type of food people are eating before we look at the indicators. For the first time in decades poverty is increasing and along with it is food insecurity. This is not just an issue for Low Income Countries but it also a very real concern in High Income Countries. The debt created from fighting Covid and the changes in energy and food supply changes due to the recent conflict in Europe, coupled with the impact of climate change on what can be grown and where is having a very real impact on the cost of our food. Therefore we should all be aware of why we should be investigating the issues which surround hunger. 

Activity Two - Describe - Food Security Index

There are a whole array of different indicators that we could look at to be able to compare and contrast food security across the world. The first one we are going to look at is a composite indicator called the Food Security Index. It is a composite piece of data as it looks at more than one factor. In this case it looks at 68 indicators which are put into four key categories; affordability, availability, quality and safety, and sustainability and adaptation (this last one has been recently added and therefore different to your textbook). It is used to measure food security in over 113 countries but this is very dependent on what information is available.  Food insecurity is look at in three stages - chronic, transitory and seasonal although it can also be divided into five stages - minimal, stressed, crisis, emergency, famine (it all depends on what you read).  Answer the following questions by using the 'Useful Resources' in the box below.

Useful Resources

To Read

'Food and Health' textbook by Stephen Codrington Pages 11 - 15 (Pages 562-566)

The Economist and Intelligence Unit - Food Security Index

The Economist - Food Security Index - Just the Map 

Activity Two - Describe - Hunger Index

The second indicator we are going to look at is the Hunger Index. I am sure that we have all experienced being hungry in our lives but we are not suffering from being hungry. Food insecurity does not necessarily create situations in which a population is hungry but it can do. The hunger index is a composite indictor and it primarily takes into account the impact of hunger on children under the age of five, a particularly vulnerable section of society. Therefore it is measuring child stunting, child wasting and child mortality along with proportion of the population that do not have access to sufficient calorie intakes. Answer the questions below by using the map and the articles in the 'Useful Resources' box.

Useful Resources

To Read

'Food and Health' textbook by Stephen Codrington Pages 10 - 11 (Pages 561-562)

The hunger index - How the Global Hunger Index is Calculated. 

Global Hunger Index

Image Two - Hunger Map

Activity Three - Describe - Calories Per Person/Capita

We all have an idea of how many calories we should be eating a day to keep our bodies functioning. Some of us will need more or less than the recommended 2000 calories for women and 2500 calories for men depending on whether we are exercising a lot or we would like to make some space for the excesses of the summer/winter holidays. But is calories per person a useful indicator? After all, I could eat my daily intake of calories quite quickly through the consumption of chocolate and crisps! Answer the questions below by using the map and the information in the 'Useful Resources' box.

Useful Resources

Activity Five - Describe - Malnutrition

Malnutrition is clearly linked to our calorie consumption but what actually is it? Can people be equally as malnourished in wealthy countries as they are in poor? There are now areas in the USA in which the children will not live as long as the parents because they are not getting access to the correct nutrients to live healthy lives. Answer the questions below by using the map and the information in the 'Useful Resources' box.

Useful Resources

To Read

World Health Definition - Malnutrition

Euractiv - Malnourishment in Wealthy Countries

'Food and Health' textbook by Stephen Codrington Pages  5 - 8 (Pages 558-561)

Exam Style Question

Explain one benefit and one problem of using calories per person as an indicator to measure disparities. [2+2]

This lesson was development in collaboration with Richard Allaway from geographyalltheway. For more resources please visit www.geographyalltheway.com