As the importance of national level information on dietary intakes in low- and middle-income countries is increasingly recognized; reliable methods, tools and guides to support the compilation of quality food and nutrient intake data are needed. In general, guidance on how to adequately prepare for a dietary survey prior to embarking on data collection is scarce.
However, particular gaps in available methods lie in the identification of the types of foods likely to be reported as consumed in a survey, and what details are needed to adequately identify and link those foods to food composition data.
While these are important but more manageable tasks in rural areas, for urban areas, there are particular challenges in the listing of foods and dishes consumed. This is due to the increasing availability and popularity of processed packaged foods, as well as prepared foods purchased in ready-to-eat form from a variety of food vendors.
This guide for conducting an urban food listing activity was developed jointly by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Intake (Center for Dietary Assessment at FHI Solutions), and the Centre for Public Health Research at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI-CPHR).
It is based on: (i) the experiences of GAIN and other researchers in food and recipe listing activities in preparation for dietary surveys in rural or urban areas; (ii) the experience of Intake in developing guidance, and providing direct technical support, for large-scale dietary intake surveys in low- and middle-income countries; and (iii) our initial experience in developing and field testing a protocol in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of the preparatory activities for a future national Kenyan dietary survey to be headed by KEMRI.
The series of tasks and data collection tools comprising the urban food listing activity, that are presented here have been refined based on our lessons learned from this experience and are considered to represent a starting point for further improvement.