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FAO/WHO GIFT | Global Individual Food consumption data Tool

©FAO/Ami Vitale

Background

Many policy makers and programme managers still rely, today, on data related to the availability of food at national level (i.e. food supply data) or at household level (i.e. household survey data). While important, these data are not sufficient to assess the nutritional adequacy of the diet of different population groups, such as adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women, small children, adult males, etc.

On the ground, the availability of food does not necessarily match the consumption of that same food. There are economic, social, cultural and behavioural factors influencing food distribution between members of a single family, making it difficult to use food availability at household level as an indicator of effective food consumption by all household members. This discrepancy is even more relevant for food availability data at national level.

Data on individual food consumption are needed to better inform agricultural and food policies and programmes at global, national and sub-national level and make them more nutrition sensitive. In particular, food-based indicators expressed as nutrient intakes (i.e. estimates of the quantity of nutrients ingested by population groups, based on the type and quantity of foods eaten, combined with the food composition of those same foods) are needed to inform nutrition-sensitive agriculture and fortification programmes and policies.

The aim of the FAO/WHO GIFT platform is to make publicly available food-based indicators, derived from gender and age disaggregated data on individual food consumption, in order to strengthen nutrition information systems. Food consumption data disaggregated by sex and age can help assessing the dietary exposure to food safety hazards, identifying the main food sources of these hazards and carrying out risk analysis. Individual food consumption data can also contribute to natural resources' management and to climate change mitigation, as they can lead to the identification of food consumption patterns that have low carbon footprint, water footprint, etc.

Individual food consumption data are being collected in many countries, including low-income countries. However, the data produced are largely under-utilized, due to a poor dissemination and a lack of data harmonization that prevents comparisons across periods of time, seasons and geographical locations. FAO/WHO GIFT platform is meant to be a response to this situation.

Objectives

FAO and WHO are working together to develop a publicly available multipurpose global database obtained through the collation and harmonization of existing data collected within individual food consumption surveys conducted at national or sub-national level. This tool will contribute to increase the capacity of all stakeholders to monitor food consumption.