New Global Indicator to Measure Women’s Dietary Diversity

Micronutrient malnutrition is a widespread yet largely neglected nutrition challenge faced by women living in the developing world, the consequences of which affect not only the health and survival of women but also their offspring. One of the most important factors responsible for maternal micronutrient deficiency is poor diets lacking diversity, however, accurate information on women’s diets and micronutrient intake is lacking. On July 15–16 2014, FANTA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations hosted a meeting to reach consensus on a global dietary diversity indicator for assessing the quality of women’s diets. The meeting built on research by the Women’s Dietary Diversity Project (WDDP) I and II.

At the meeting participants from academia, international research institutes, and United Nations and donor agencies unanimously endorsed the use of a new indicator called Minimum Dietary Diversity – Women (MDD-W). The new indicator reflects consumption of at least five of ten food groups; women consuming foods from five or more of the following food groups have a greater likelihood of meeting their micronutrient needs than women consuming foods from fewer food groups.

 1. all starchy staple foods, 2. beans and peas, 3. nuts and seeds, 4. dairy, 5. flesh foods, 6. eggs, 7. Vitamin A-rich dark green leafy vegetables, 8. other vitamin A-rich vegetables and fruits, 9. other vegetables, 10. other fruits

The indicator can be generated from surveys and provides a new tool for assessment, target-setting, and advocacy. The links below provide further information on the indicator and meeting accomplishments.