A Global Dietary Diversity Indicator for Women (MDD-W)

FAO in collaboration with the USAID Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA) and along with the financial support from the University of California, Davis, USA and the EU/FAO programme “Improved global governance for hunger reduction program”  has developed a user guide for measuring women’s dietary diversity titled “Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women: A Guide to Measurement”.  This guide intends to provide users of the indicator with detailed guidance on its use and application in their intended settings along with information on common-pitfalls.

Minimum Dietary Diversity-Women (MDD-W) is a simple proxy indicator for global use, which has been shown to reflect one key dimension of diet quality: micronutrient adequacy in the diet of women of reproductive age. The dichotomous indicator, made up of 10 food groups with a cutoff point at five, reflects that women consuming foods from five or more food groups have a greater likelihood of meeting their micronutrient requirements than women consuming foods from fewer food groups. The tool can be used in both national and subnational assessments, and can facilitate nutrition assessment, target setting, impact evaluation and advocacy.

Background on the indicator

In 2013-14, FAO commissioned a project: “Women’s Dietary Diversity Follow-up Project (WDDP-II)”, in collaboration with the world’s leading experts in nutrition assessment, to improve the Women’s Dietary Diversity Score (WDDS).  The WDDP-II project expanded the datasets to cover six countries and nine settings in Africa and Asia. Additional analysis was conducted with the objective to identify and propose a dichotomous indicator for global use.

The technical report published in 2015, provides information on the research findings along with a detailed explanation on the development of MDD-W: Moving Forward on Choosing a Standard Operational Indicator of Women’s Dietary Diversity . Based on research findings from the WDDP-II project, FAO and the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA) convened a consensus meeting in Washington DC, USA on 15-16, July 2014 and selected the new indicator called Minimum Dietary Diversity – Women (MDD-W). Meeting participants from academia, international research institutes, and UN and donor agencies unanimously endorsed and supported the use of the new indicator. The meeting’s summary report is available  here  for downloading, along with a short meeting brief available here. Furthermore, the experts’ presentations from the meeting are available here.

Please note that the existing FAO guidelines for measuring “Household Dietary Diversity” will remain unchanged.