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SDG Indicator 2.1.1 - Prevalence of undernourishment

Indicator 2.1.1 - Prevalence of undernourishment

The prevalence of undernourishment (PoU) is an estimate of the proportion of the population whose habitual food consumption is insufficient to provide the dietary energy levels that are required to maintain a normal active and healthy life. It is expressed as a percentage. This indicator will measure progress towards SDG Target 2.1.

By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.


The PoU offers countries a measure to track progress made in stamping out hunger in a way consistent with the past. Together with indicator 2.1.2, this is ideal for evidence-based policymaking to ensure no one and no area is left behind and to bring the global hunger figure down to zero. 

Undernourishment means that a person is not able to acquire enough food to meet the daily minimum dietary energy requirements, over a period of one year. FAO defines hunger as being synonymous with chronic undernourishment.

Key results

The 2030 zero hunger target will not be achieved unless the recent trend is reversed

Globally, the world hunger is estimated to have increased since 2014, in terms of both percentage and absolute number of population. It is not yet clear whether this recent uptick in hunger indicates the beginning of an upward trend, or whether it reflects an acute transient situation. Regardless, reductions in the prevalence of undernourishment, as well as in the number of undernourished people, have slowed down since 2010. Across the regions, while Africa had the highest prevalence of undernourishment, Asia accounted for 64 percent of undernourished people worldwide in 2016 owing to its large population.

The recent trends in undernourishment are complemented by evidence from FAO’s new measures of food insecurity based on FIES. Specifically, Africa has the highest level of severe food insecurity, reaching 27.4 percent of the population – almost four times that of any other region in 2016. It is also one of the regions where food insecurity is on the rise between 2014 and 2016. Rising food insecurity was also observed in Latin America, rising from 4.7 percent in 2014 to 6.4 percent in 2016. In Asia, the prevalence of severe food insecurity decreased slightly between 2014 and 2016, from 7.7 percent to 7.0 percent overall.

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