Background: Information on dietary intake is essential for the assessment, planning, monitoring, and evaluation of nutritional interventions. A number of methods are available, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. Dietary intake records, 24-hour recalls, and Food Frequency Questionnaires (FFQs) determine food consumption and nutrient intakes of populations based on individual assessment; few countries have such data at national or regional levels. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Balance Sheets (FBS) and food industry data, available in most countries, permit calculations of per capita food consumption but do not provide data on individual consumption. Household Consumption and Expenditures Surveys (HCES) are available for most countries and provide data that can be used to calculate consumption of fortification vehicles and to estimate additional intakes of micronutrients delivered through them to specific population groups.
Objective: To introduce the reader to the set of papers included in this Supplement reviewing methods and experience with HCES to inform nutrition, and specifically food fortification programs.
Methods: The Monitoring, Assessment, and Data (MAD) working group and colleagues critically reviewed experiences in estimating dietary intakes, focusing on the use of secondary analysis of HCES.
Results: HCES predict coverage of the population that consumes a fortification vehicle and consumed amounts of fortification vehicles. HCES allow comparisons of different population strata and may also approximate micronutrient adequacy, based on nutrient density, at the household level.
Conclusions: HCES are useful to inform food fortification and other nutrition programs for planning interventions, but further work is necessary. Currently, combined use of traditional dietary surveys is needed for assessment and for program monitoring and evaluation.