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Food groups to assess diet diversity

This question was posted the Infant and young child feeding interventions forum area and has 7 replies.

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Nicki Connell

Emergency Nutrition Advisor, Save the Children

Normal user

4 Jun 2013, 16:32

Hi all I see a similar question has been posted previously and been left unanswered, so I am going to re-post in the hopes there is someone who can advise on the best course of action! I have come across 2 classifications of food groups while researching how to measure dietary diversity: 1) 12 Food Groups (FANTA) — Cereals — Roots and tubers — Vegetables — Fruits — Meat, poultry, offal — Eggs — Fish and seafood — Pulses/legumes/nuts — Milk and milk products — Oils/fats — Sugar/ honey — Miscellaneous 2) 7 Food Groups (WHO) — grains, roots and tubers — legumes and nuts — dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese) — flesh foods (meat, fish, poultry and liver/organ meats) — eggs — vitamin-A rich fruits and vegetables — other fruits and vegetables Firstly in the 7 food groups where would oil and sugar be classified? Secondly which classification is most relevant to use in assessing individual dietary diversity and household dietary diversity? Many thanks in advance.

Anonymous 2206

Independent consultant

Normal user

4 Jun 2013, 16:46

Hello, you should refer to the following, latest guidelines from FAO on assessing dietary diversity. It is based on 12 food groups and I find these guidelines clear and user-friendly. Good luck!

Anonymous 1278

Normal user

4 Jun 2013, 17:22

Hi there, Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS) consists of 12 food groups - refer to the FAO guideline suggested by Anonymous 220 Individual Dietary Diversity Score (IDDS) commonly also known as Women's Dietary Diversity Score (WDDS covers women in reproductive age, PLW - most vulnerable) consists of 9 food groups - refer to the FAO guideline suggested by Anonymous 220 7 food groups are recommended for children 6 months to 2 years of age - Core indicator for complementary feeding - refer to the guideline on 8 core indicators for IYCF endorsed by WHO/UNICEF/other agencies - Oil and sugar cannot be considered as food groups in this case! Good Luck!!

Anonymous 1191

Normal user

4 Jun 2013, 19:17

FYI...... The Individual Dietary Diversity Score (IDDS) is NOT the same thing as the Womens Dietary Diversity Score (WDDS) as the IDDS can also be used for children. Individual Dietary Diversity Scores (IDDS) aim to reflect nutrient adequacy. Studies in different age groups have shown that an increase in individual dietary diversity score is related to increased nutrient adequacy of the diet. Individual Dietary Diversity Score (IDDS) is often used as a proxy measure of the nutritional quality of an individualís diet. The Individual Dietary Diversity Score (IDDS) reflects the nutrient adequacy of the diet and the food groups considered in this score place. IDD scores target more specifically young children and women of childbearing age, because of the importance of micronutrient adequacy for growth, development and protection of the fetus and infant. IDDS (women and young children) are now part of the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) questionnaires (starting from 2005 / DHS-IV). Corresponding DHS reports are available from ORC Macro website ( ).

Anonymous 525

Health and nutrition specialist

Normal user

4 Jun 2013, 19:39

Such a pity that this nice forum is regularly the theatre of aggressive answers... We are all there to learn something and I think mistakes can be corrected more gently, this would certainly be more effective.

Anonymous 1191

Normal user

4 Jun 2013, 22:23

See Food and Nutrition Security Indicators: A Review. University of Bonn. Evita Hanie Pangaribowo, Nicolas Gerber, Maximo Torero, Working Paper 108. Department of Political and Cultural Change. Center for Development Research, University of Bonn Editors: Joachim von Braun, Manfred Denich, Solvay Gerke, Anna-Katharina Hornidge and Conrad Schetter, February 2013. Available at:

Tamsin Walters

en-net moderator

Forum moderator

5 Jun 2013, 09:23

Dear all, The comment from Anonymous 525 is a gentle reminder to us all to remain courteous and sensitive to others on this forum. It is often difficult to anticipate how written responses may come across to others and some messages may unintentionally appear more aggressive than intended. One suggestion we would like to propose is that people making strong, authoritative statements should preferably identify themselves so that others have some idea of who is making the statement and their evidence-base for the statements. It is not essential to identify yourself but would be helpful for others when understanding where/who the advice is coming from. Many thanks, Tamsin

Mark Myatt

Consultamt Epidemiologist

Frequent user

5 Jun 2013, 17:03

You many get some more information if you post you question to the assessment forum. Briefly ... The 12 groups are for the Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS). There is a 9 group variant used for individuals (IDDS) or women (WDDS). These are described in FANTA documents. The 7 group score is what you want for IYCF. This is used in the (rather cumbersome) WHO indicator set, the ICFI score, and the small sample IYCF indicator set being developed by UNICEF, VALID, and some INGOs for use in RAM and S3M surveys. In this score, sugar is ignored but oil may be included in the vitamin A rich foods groups of this is fortified or naturally rich in vitamin A (e.g. red palm oil). It is also quite common to include green leafy vegetables in this group. I hope this is of some use.

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