The depth of food deficit represents the average per capita amount of additional energy (kcals) needed for undernourished individuals to meet the average dietary energy requirement (ADER) (FAO, 2000). This indicator is calculated annually by the FAO and uses Food Balance Sheet (FBS) data to estimate average consumption levels and the Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU) indicator to estimate the number of undernourished individuals in the population (Cafiero, 2014).
Method of construction
The depth of the food deficit indicator can be accessed on the FAOSTAT website as part of the Suite of Food Security Indicators, which is located under the 'Data' tab. To calculate the indicator, FAOSTAT first estimates the average intensity of food deprivation of the undernourished, which is equal to the difference between the ADER and the average dietary energy consumption of the undernourished population. This value is multiplied by the number of undernourished people, provided by the PoU indicator, to get the total food deficit (kcal) in the country. This value is then normalized by dividing by the population size to get the average per capita food deficit (Moltedo et al. 2014). The depth of food deficit indicator calculated by FAOSTAT is presented as a three-year moving average. For more detailed information about each step of the calculation, see the ADEPT-FSM book described in the next paragraph.
In addition, this indicator can be calculated using Household Consumption and Expenditure Survey (HCES) data. This indicator is one of several indicators included in the ADePT-FSM (Food Security Module) software package, which is a free standalone software developed by the FAO and the World Bank that allows users to easily derive food security indicators from household survey data. The software download and corresponding documentation can be found on the FAO website, here. Please also see the Moltedo et al. 2014 book published by the World Bank, which provides detailed instructions for analyzing food security using household survey data, and discusses the depth of food deficit indicator on pages 59-60.
The depth of food deficit is useful for problem identification, advocacy, and global and national monitoring. It is often one of the first indicators collected by researchers and practitioners to understand the degree of food insecurity in a country. Because it is available for nearly all countries, it can be used to compare the severity of food deficit across multiple countries (Reddy et al. 2016). This indicator is part of the FAOSTAT Suite of Food Security Indicators and is published annually by FAO in the State of Food Insecurity (SOFI).
Strengths and Weaknesses
The depth of food deficit is a cost-effective way to understand trends in food insecurity at the national level over time and across countries. The indicator does not attempt to measure the quality of dietary energy and therefore is only representative of adequacy of dietary energy. As a national level indicator, depth of food deficit does not measure distribution, equity, or access and can make a severe state of food insecurity seem less serious because high energy intake in a few places can mask deficits in others. In addition, as a three-year average, this indicator can be used as a measure of chronic hunger but is unable to capture trends in undernourishment over shorter reference periods that may be associated with seasonality, price spikes, or climate-related shocks to the food system (Cafiero, 2014). The indicator dietary energy in the food supply (kcal/capita/day) provides similar information on the adequacy of energy theoretically available at a national level but does not incorporate the average individual requirement the way that depth of food deficit does using ADER.
Country-level depth of food deficit is released each year by the FAO using data from their annual food balance sheets. In addition HCES data can also be used.
There are no links to validation studies to show for this indicator.