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The urbanization of food insecurity and malnutrition

Cecilia Tacoli

Briefing, 4 pages

Malnutrition, including overweight and obesity, is on the rise globally and increasingly concentrated in urban areas. Yet this urban dimension is neglected in research and policy related to food security, even as this field has broadened its scope from food production to encompass consumption as well. Incorporating the urban dimension of food and nutrition insecurity requires attention to many aspects of urban poverty and inequality that affect diets, including income, housing and basic services.

This Environment and Urbanization Brief explores how urban poverty, defined across multiple dimensions, limits access to safe, nutritious and convenient food. It also examines the social aspects of urban food access, notably the gendered nature of food-related responsibilities. Clearly, food contributes to building social capital and maintaining community relationships, whether between women and other household members, between food traders and their customers, or among urban residents with a shared interest in the economic and cultural value of making and sharing food.

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