Despite the world as a whole

The Causes and Effects of Hunger

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Despite the world as a whole producing enough food to sustain all 7.5 billion people, 1 in every 9 people continues to go hungry by the day and this is according to the World Food Programme. The rate of hunger has decreased by 27% since 2000 but despite this, we still have a long way to go. Hunger is defined as the feeling of discomfort that is caused by a lack of food. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region that struggles most with under nutrition with some countries recording 35% of its population lacking a sufficient supply of food. Worth noting, hunger occurs in three forms namely; chronic hunger, hidden hunger, and acute hunger. Acute hunger is the most extreme of all three and is associated with crisis such as disasters and war. Chronic hunger is a prolonged state of undernourishment and is the rifest form of hunger. Hidden hunger represents a form of hunger that occurs as a result of consuming an unbalanced diet that lacks important nutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamin A, or iodine. The purpose of this text is to discuss the causes and effects of hunger. The text highlights poverty, job instability, and climate change as the causes of hunger and poor academic performance, mental health issues, and increased risk of chronic diseases as the effects of hunger.

Poverty and Mental Health Issues

To begin with, poverty and mental health problems is the most common cause and effect of hunger respectively. Poverty is a cause that cuts across both poor and rich countries as the leading cause of hunger. Whether people live in rural or urban areas, poverty affects people from all walks of life. People that survive on an income of less than 1.9 dollars are said to be living in extreme poverty (Gödecke, Stein, & Qaim, 2018). The biggest group of people that live in extreme poverty are small-scale farmers in Sub-Saharan countries and particularly developing countries. This is because they lack access to land to farm enough food to sustain them round the year. Additionally, they also tend to earn meager income from selling their farm produce leaving them unable to buy food and other supplies to sustain them. Hunger and poverty occur in a vicious cycle. Families living in abject poverty end up being undernourished because they cannot access nutritious food and in turn, malnourishment makes it hard for them to work and earn money to buy healthy food. Located in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo with a population of 77 million is among the poorest countries in the world with the majority of people living below the poverty threshold (Otekunrin, Otekunrin, Momoh, & Ayinde, 2019). DRC had 7.9 million people facing acute hunger as of 2017. As regards effect, mental health issues are a consequence of hunger. Going through hunger is stressful. One has to constantly worry if and whether they will get a meal. This constant worry affects a person’s mental health leading them to suffer problems such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, mothers with school-going children that suffer from hunger have a 56.2% chance of suffering from PTSD and 53.1% are exposed to suffering from severe depression (Piccolo, Milos, Bluemel, Schumacher, Müller-Pfeiffer, Fried, & Martin-Soelch, 2020). Without a doubt, the inability to provide the people you love with basic needs has a traumatic effect on their mental well-being.

Job Instability and Poor Academic Performance

Lack of jobs and poor academic performance are also been linked with hunger. In high-income countries such as the United States, hunger is a result of lack of jobs or jobs with poor pay. The rate of hunger increases when the local and national economies crash. This is because people tend to lose their source of income leaving them exposed to hunger as they do not have the purchasing power to buy food. For example, a person that has been incarcerated and later released from prison often faces a wide range of discrimination in society. It is difficult for them to secure employment once they reintegrate back into society because they have a criminal record. Another example is single-parent households. Such families are at risk of going through hunger because there is only one parent and they might not have the capacity to work enough hours or take multiple jobs because they have to take care of their children and they are not in a position to pay for childcare. Worth noting, hunger affects the academic performance of students. This is because concentrating in class while one is hungry is difficult. Roaring stomachs cause students to be aggressive, hyperactive, and cranky. These issues often distract children and make them lose focus on their academic work which leads to learning disabilities and developmental delays. Research shows that 50% of children going through hunger often repeat a grade and identifying a hungry child can be hard.

Climate Change and Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases

Climate change and increased risk of chronic illness are other common causes of effects of hunger. The poorest of the developing countries, despite contributing to climate change are already feeling its effect. Climate change continues to pose a risk to water security and destroying food. This is the biggest environmental challenge that the world continues to face. If we manage to fight the challenges posed by climate change, we will be one step closer to eliminating hunger in the world. Without climate change, it would be a challenge to feed the entire population. With the global population expected to hit the 9 billion mark by the end of the century, sustaining the population will become even harder if agricultural production from available farmland does not increase. Global warming is also contributing immensely to hunger and malnutrition. Drought causes crops to dry up and this affects the livelihood of many farmers. Hunger also translates to chronic diseases. The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) has found a strong link between hunger and chronic illness such as diabetes, blood pressure, and heart disease. As a matter of fact, 58% of households that collect food from the Feeding America network have at least one member suffering from blood pressure and 33% have at least one member with diabetes (Montagrin, Martins-Klein, Sander, & Mather, 2021). Skipping breakfast is one thing but the more meals one misses the more their chances of suffering from hunger and other associated problems.


In closing, the problem of hunger is an issue that affects people from all walks of life. It is the one problem that cuts across regions and affects people from rural and urban areas alike. Some of the common causes of hunger have to do with poverty, job instability, and climate change and the effects of hunger pertain to poor academic performance, mental health issues, and increased risk of chronic diseases. Without a doubt, hunger is avoidable. If the world produces enough food to feed the entire global population, then we should not have to deal with hunger issues. High-income countries such as the United States should join forces with United Nations entities, government agencies, and civil society organizations to eradicate the problem of hunger in the world. Further, at the individual level, people should do what they can to fight poverty. This includes supporting the poorest people in the society with food as well as opportunities for sustainable livelihoods.


Gödecke, T., Stein, A. J., & Qaim, M. (2018). The global burden of chronic and hidden hunger: trends and determinants. Global food security, 17, 21-29.

Montagrin, A., Martins-Klein, B., Sander, D., & Mather, M. (2021). Effects of hunger on emotional arousal responses and attention/memory biases. Emotion, 21(1), 148.

Otekunrin, O. A., Otekunrin, O. A., Momoh, S., & Ayinde, I. A. (2019). How far has Africa gone in achieving the zero hunger target? Evidence from Nigeria. Global Food Security, 22, 1-12.

Piccolo, M., Milos, G., Bluemel, S., Schumacher, S., Müller-Pfeiffer, C., Fried, M., … & Martin-Soelch, C. (2020). Effects of hunger on mood and affect reactivity to monetary reward in women with obesity–A pilot study. PloS one, 15(5), e0232813.