Dietary Diversity as a Measure of Micronutrient Adequacy of Women’s Diets in Resource-Poor Areas

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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 (FAO) hosted a technical meeting in Washington, DC to reach consensus on a global dietary diversity indicator for assessing the quality of women’s diets. At the meeting participants endorsed the use of a new indicator called Minimum Dietary Diversity – Women (MDD-W). The meeting built on research by the Women’s Dietary Diversity Project (WDDP) I and II.

WDDP I (2005–2010) was a USAID-supported and FANTA-led collaborative research initiative with the broad objective of using existing datasets with dietary intake data from 24-hour recall to analyze the relationship between simple indicators of dietary diversity—such as those that could be derived from Demographic Health Surveys—and the micronutrient adequacy of women’s diets in resource-poor settings. WDDP I analyzed datasets from five countries in different settings: Bangladesh (rural), Burkina Faso (urban), Mali (urban), Mozambique (rural), and the Philippines (urban/peri-urban). The methods and findings of the research were reported by FANTA and in seven articles published as a Special Supplement in the Journal of Nutrition.

WDDP I Collaborating Organizations: IFPRI, Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies, Institute of Research for Development, Iowa State University, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of North Carolina, Wageningen University

WDDP II (2012–2016), led by FAO with support from the European Union, used more data and additional analyses to identify and propose a dichotomous indicator for global use. The work resulted in a new global indicator and guide to measure women’s dietary diversity.

WDDP II Collaborating Organizations: Institute of Research for Development, Biodiversity, FANTA, HarvestPlus, and University of California, Davis

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