Food Consumption Surveys
Food Consumption Surveys Raider H. Mugode 12.07.99
Re: Food Consumption Surveys Phil Harvey 13.07.99

From: "National Food and Nutrition Commission" <>

Subject: Food Consumption Surveys.

Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 13:23:01 +0200


Dear sir/madam,


Zambia is intending to carry out a food consumption survey to determine the prevailling food consumption patterns and nutrient intake. The last time such a survey was conducted was in 1969. Since then Structural Adjustments reforms have made tremendous changes in the economy with serious implications on dietary intakes and food consumption patterns of the people of Zambia. We are therefore asking you to help us with information on recent studies in developing countries giving methodologies and research tools that we can adopt for use in our survey.


Yours faithfully


Raider H. Mugode

Nutritionist- Research and Planning Unit.

Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999 15:05:16 -0400

From: Phil Harvey <>

Subject: Re: Food Consumption Surveys



MOST, the USAID micronutrient program, has great interest in the use of food consumption data to inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of food and nutrition policies and programs in developing countries. MOST staff will be happy to open a dialogue with you to discuss details of the planned survey. With support from USAID, MOST is already working directly with the NFNC on a number of ongoing initiatives related to the effort to reduce vitamin A deficiency in Zambia.

1. Purpose of the survey: To be of service, we will need some further information concerning the planned survey. The most important information is a clear statement of the purpose of the survey. Potential uses are estimating prevalence of food and nutrition problems, developing policies and programs (e.g., assessing options for fortification), determining the cost-effectiveness of different approaches, and monitoring and evaluation of existing programs. Will this survey be designed to follow up on the vitamin A and anemia surveys that were recently undertaken in Zambia?

Making accurate estimates of food consumption is time-consuming and thus expensive, another reason for defining clearly the purpose of the survey and uses of the results.

The choice of dietary methodology will be largely determined by the primary purposes of the survey. Twenty-four-hour recall, food frequency, household inventory, and household expenditure all yield useful information, but the information will be useful for different purposes. Similarly, the design of the survey and sample size will be greatly influenced by how the data will be used.

2. Available food composition tables: How comprehensive and up-to-date are the food composition tables available to you? The quality of the transformation from recorded food intake to estimates of nutrient intake will be limited by the accuracy of the food tables available. This is particularly important for staples such as nshima that are eaten so widely in Zambia, but which may vary considerably in composition of micronutrients with degree of extraction.

3. Existing data: What do you know of food consumption patterns in Zambia already? Several studies have been undertaken over the last few years that have included food consumption data (two by Chewe Luo and at least one other by BASICS using the ¡food box¢ approach). These will give you useful preliminary information about the extent of dietary diversity across demographic and socioeconomic groups as well as geographic areas within the country. The experiences gained in these studies will also be highly relevant to choosing appropriate dietary methods.

As soon as we receive this information from you, we can continue a more specific discussion. You can contact us directly at