This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 IGO licence. It is free to read at Oxford Scholarship Online and offered as a free PDF download from OUP and selected open access locations. This volume is the first of three addressing a wide range of policy issues relating to the role of public action in combating hunger and deprivation in the modern world. It deals with the background nutritional, economic, social, and political aspects of the problem of world hunger. Topics covered include the characteristics and causal antecedents of famines and endemic deprivation, the interconnections between economic and political factors, the role of social relations and the family, the special problems of women's deprivation, the connection between food consumption and other indicators of living standards, and the medical aspects of undernourishment and its consequences. Several contributions also address the political background of public policy, in particular the connection between the government and the public, including the role of newspapers and the media, and the part played by political commitment and by adversarial politics and pressures. Taken together, these essays provide a comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the problem of hunger and deprivation, and an important guide for action.