Evaluation of Dietary Intake
Data which identify food consumption are collected for a variety of reasons:
• to estimate the adequacy of dietary intake of the population
• to investigate the relationship between diet, nutritional status and health.
• to evaluate nutritional education, intervention and food fortification programmes
Information is obtained on food and dietary intake by individuals or groups of individuals either by methods of measuring food intake or by methods of converting food intake to nutrient intake.
1. Food consumption data are collected to identify whether the population is eating sufficiently well, to assess the relationship between diet, health and nutritional status and to plan nutritional education, intervention and food fortification programmes.
2. A correct measurement of dietary intake is central to any nutritional epidemiological study. The validity of the results must be checked and error estimated so that allowances can be made in the final analyses.
3. Prospective records of food intake are more accurate than recall of past intake.
4. A number of techniques have been described including description, weighed and estimated records, measurement of intake, diet history, household data and inventory methods. Other methods include household records, list-recall methods and population studies and 7-day measurement of food intake, with anthropometric measures and blood constituents. Individual diet histories and 24-hour recall are important assessments of nutritional intake. The accuracy of food frequency questionnaires can be assessed.
5. The conversion of food consumption to nutrient intake is a complex process which requires chemical analyses of the various food constituents, the writing of food consumption tables and analysis of individual foods.
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