Food insecurity is a complex condition with four main dimensions: availability, access, utilization and stability. Food insecurity can be chronic or transitory. Chronic food insecurity implies a long-term or persistent inability to meet the minimal nutritional requirements. Transitory food insecurity is the short-term inability to meet required nutritional intake, and implies a capacity for recovery. Cyclical food insecurity, which occurs when there are habitual seasonal variations in the food security situation can be either chronic (if it lasts more than six months), or transitory (if it lasts less than six months).
The true incidence of food insecurity is debatable, as food security is a complex condition for which the appropriate measurement techniques have not yet been refined.
Common indicators used to measure food insecurity include: prevalence of undernourishment in all demographics; children aged <5 years stunted; children aged <5 years underweight; and children aged <5 years wasted. More modern and holisitic approaches also consider indicators such as: political stability and road density.
Hundreds of millions of people in different parts of the world, especially in the low-income countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, still go without the adequate food which would enable them to lead fully productive working lives. Grains form more than half the world's direct food supply in most poor countries. Some rich countries consume less grain directly, but they consume grain at over twice the rate per capita of poor countries indirectly in the form of meat and beverages.