The Global Dietary Database: measuring diet in countries worldwide
Currently, for most countries, the only available dietary data are food balance sheets from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which provide rough national estimates of food availability or disappearance. Previous work has shown that, even nationally, such data have shortcomings, for example, total daily energy intakes are often overestimated by about 1000 kilocalories per day; and intake levels of most foods are overestimated by 50-200%. Furthermore FAO data provide no information on diet subnationally, for example, by age, sex, pregnancy/nursing status, or socioeconomic status. Thus, the true levels of consumption of most food and nutrients across the world, and particularly among specific population subgroups, are unknown.
To address this gap in knowledge we have established the Global Dietary Database, a comprehensive compilation of information on food and nutrient consumption levels in countries worldwide. This is a large, collaborative, ongoing global project to collect, validate, and disseminate data on dietary intakes of major foods and nutrients for children and adults by age, sex, pregnancy/nursing status, rural vs. urban residence, and level of education. These data will capture the scope of the global nutrition transition, ranging from nutritional deficiencies to overnutrition.
This work will generate the most current and reliable estimates of food and nutrient consumption worldwide, particularly in poor and vulnerable populations, and will provide reliable and robust data to inform global nutrition policy.