Nutrition assessment

Nutrition Assessment covers many topics, including the collection, harmonisation and sharing of dietary data, dietary recommendations on nutrition requirements, food composition, and the analysis of dietary data including the use of diet quality and diversity indicators. Check our key publications and resources below.

Data sharing through FAO/WHO Global Individual Food consumption data Tool(FAO/WHO GIFT)

One of the main obstacles towards a healthy diet for all is the insufficiency of available dietary data to support effective evidence-based policies and programs. Individual Quantitative Food Consumption Data (IQFCD) are collected in many countries, including low- and middle-income countries. However, these data are largely under-utilized, due to poor dissemination and lack of harmonization that prevents comparison across periods of time, seasons and geographical locations. In response to this, FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been developing a global database of IQFCD under a joint initiative called FAO/WHO Global Individual Food consumption data Tool(FAO/WHO GIFT), which improves the availability and utilization of IQFCD worldwide. As part of this initiative, FAO undertake capacity development in data harmonization and data use to ensure that IQFCD can be shared and utilized. 

Dietary diversity using the Minimum Dietary Diversity indicator for Women (MDD-W)

A non-quantitative dichotomous indicator on women’s dietary diversity MDD-W can provide enlightening information on an important dimension of diet quality: micronutrient adequacy. MDD-W measures whether or not women of reproductive age (WRA) have consumed at least five out of ten defined food groups the previous day or night. A higher MDD-W score among a group of WRA is a proxy for better micronutrient adequacy in a given population. As a country-led process, collecting high quality MDD-W data quality is contingent on the ability of enumerators to consistently apply the correct standardized data collection methodology. This is especially important when MDD-W is used in large-scale, multi-topic national surveys, where enumerators often work with minimum supervision. The Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women. An updated guide for measurement: from collection to action (2021) published by FAO is a fundamental resource for collection of MDD-W data.

Nutrition requirements

FAO provides scientific advice on nutrient requirements to Member Countries and international bodies, including the Codex Alimentarius Commission. National and international agencies use this information for developing policies and programmes for actions to improve nutrition throughout the world. FAO activities on nutritional requirements include development of practical applications and tools for improving nutrition, such as food-based dietary guidelines, nutrition labelling, training workshops and research related to nutrient requirements.

Food composition

To improve the quality, availability, reliability and use of food composition data an International Network of Food Data Systems called INFOODS has been developed. It is a worldwide network of food composition experts and it also stands as a forum through which international harmonization and support for food composition activities can be achieved and advocated. INFOODS is organized into several regional data centers with a global coordinator. In this context, INFOODS and FAO provide guidelines, standards, compilation tools, databases, capacity development tools, policy advice, advocacy tools, technical assistance at country level; and they represent a fora to link agriculture, biodiversity, food systems, health and nutrition to achieve better nutrition worldwide.