Operationalizing household food security in rural Nepal

J. Gittelsohn, S. Mookherji, G. Pelto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This paper operationalizes household food security and links it to household food consumption patterns in rural Nepal. Food security has long been used as a macro-level indicator of agricultural stability by both agricultural and economic researchers. However, little work has been done to operationalize it at the household level. We view household food security as reflecting three different dimensions: past food supply, current food stores, and future supply of food adequate to meet the needs of all household members. A key method is the construction of scales that capture these different aspects of household food security. When operationalized in this way, household food security is associated with increased consumption of non-staple foods in this setting. Past household food security is associated with increased frequency of meat consumption and increased variety of food consumed. Current household food security predicts a higher frequency of meat and dairy intake and greater dietary variety. Future household food security is associated with increased total dietary variety and future consumption of dairy products. We feel that this conceptual approach to assessing household food security, i.e., the use of scales to measure past, current, and future components of food security, can be used as a framework in other settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-222
Number of pages13
JournalFood and nutrition bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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