The Reference Diet Deprivation (ReDD) index: A new diet quality measure for more effective nutrition-sensitive policies
- Impact Area
Poor diet quality is a major cause of various forms of malnutrition and noncommunicable diseases. Tackling this public health problem is an important development policy priority; and doing so successfully requires access to reliable measures of diet quality that can be used for policy planning and evaluation purposes. Recent methodological developments have mostly focused on the costs and affordability of healthy diets. While diet costing methods are useful for assessing whether nutritionally desirable diets are achievable, they provide little information on how far consumers are from that diet, what dietary shifts are required to get closer to the diet, and how food or related policies might encourage such behavioral change.
In a recently published open-access article in Food Policy, we address this knowledge gap by proposing a new, quantifiable measure of diet quality in populations with useful applications in development policy analysis. Our Reference Diet Deprivation (ReDD) index is based on a comparison of household food consumption as reported in commonly available household consumption and expenditure surveys across a distinct number of food groups against optimal consumption amounts defined by any selected reference diet.