Better data for better nutrition

A new tool, developed by Bioversity International and partners in Kenya, will ease the burden of measuring food intake thus helping decision-making in nutrition interventions. With a few adjustments, the tool could also be used in other parts of the world.

Is nutrition research capturing reliable food consumption data?

In Kenya, like in many other parts of the world, a large amount of nutrition research focuses on establishing people’s dietary patterns in order to determine the appropriate interventions to avert malnutrition. Evidence shows that the difficulty in finding the most suitable solutions is often due to a lack of reliable food consumption data.

Often, foods available and consumed during different times of the year are not captured, yet they largely contribute to the nutrition of communities at the specific times of their availability. These are mostly wild fruits and vegetables rich in essential micronutrients, that are often overlooked during the 24-hour dietary recall data collection – a research method used in nutritional assessment, which asks individuals to recall foods and beverages they consumed in the 24 hours prior to the interview. This happens mainly because consumers do not deem them as important foods hence they do not disclose the details to the researchers. Dietary intakes and their changes are as diverse as are the communities and seasons; thus we cannot assume that a one-size-fits-all intervention is representative of a nation.