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Clarification on women dietary diversity score food groups - use of Zatar

This question was posted the Assessment and Surveillance forum area and has 7 replies.

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Nutrition adviser - COOPI

Normal user

9 Mar 2016, 16:37

We are conducting a HDDS and WDDS (Women dietary diversity score) in Lebanon. Zaatar (a blend of dry thyme, sesame and salt) is commonly used together with bread and cheese. In which food group would you place zatar (vegetables, spice?).. if it is a spice, it would get 0 in the WDDS, right?

Mary Arimond

University of California, Davis

Normal user

9 Mar 2016, 18:31


Yes, you are correct, zaatar should definitely be classified as a condiment/spice, and would not contribute a point towards the WDDS.

Jana Daher

Normal user

9 Mar 2016, 19:36

Hi Lucia,

The dry thyme is considered a spice and would get a 0 on WDDS. But since sesame seeds are added (in a generous amount) to the zaatar mixture, then maybe you should consider it as part of "legumes, nuts and seeds".

Best of luck!

Charulatha Banerjee

Terre des hommes Foundation

Normal user

10 Mar 2016, 04:29

Hello Lucia, In India too in some parts we use a generous amount of sesame seeds in mixture with spices- it has some oil and hence some fat content surely - I would think that putting it in the same category as nuts/ oilseeds like another colleague suggested is appropriate. Once completed will be interesting to see the report more for the detailed methodology and analysis if possible. Good luck!

Karim Bougma

McGill University

Normal user

10 Mar 2016, 05:38

Hi Jana and Charulatha,
What do estimate as ''generous amount''? The current recommendation to be considered as ingredient, is that the amount of the food GROUP (here legumes, nuts, and seeds) consumed should be at least 15g (about 1 tablespoon). So during the preparation phase of the survey, you may need to know about what amount of sesame (in the zaatar) is usually on one piece of bread and on average how many pieces of bread with zaatar are consumed per day per women. Also you need to account for the quantities of other foods in the group.
there is a new WDDS based on 10 groups rather 9 and a minimum value set at 5 out of the 10 (

Charulatha Banerjee

Terre des hommes Foundation

Normal user

10 Mar 2016, 06:56

Thanks Karim - the specific point you bring up regarding how much sesame is important. Well noted!


Nutrition adviser - COOPI

Normal user

10 Mar 2016, 15:56

Thanks everybody for your suggestions. I think we will consider zataar as a spice, for the time being, as we are not sure about the exact amount of sesame seeds in the blend (and there many variaties of zataar as well).


Forum Moderator, ENN

Forum moderator

14 Mar 2016, 17:17

From Rita Bhatia:

Dear friends.
I wish to draw your attention to Nutval 4.1. This has been released. I was in Syria and Palestine and requested Andrew Seal to include Middle Eastern food Items . So Zatar is included. Details from Andy are given below:
You can download this at
We are pleased to let you know that NutVal 4.1 has been released. This new release contains a number of enhancements and we hope you will find it useful in your food assistance work.

What's new in NutVal Version 4.1

Minor corrections to help file text and navigation buttons have been made to improve clarity, and formatting on the Logistics Calculator sheet has been improved.
New foods have been added in response to requests from users. These include the WFP, USAID/USDA, and Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute (BSTI), specifications for fortified rice; Tahini, Yoghurt, and Herbs. As usual, specifications are indicted in the food database by adding the name of the specifying organisation in square brackets [ ]. Alternative names for foods are indicated using round brackets ( ). The use of different text colours to distinguish specifications from food composition data has been discontinued.

Special nutritional products such as RUSF, RUTF, MNP, and LNS are now listed under a new food group called SPEC. NUTR. PROD, rather than being included in the MISELLANEOUS group. Fortified blended foods are still listed under the BLENDED FOODS group.

Dietary Folate Equivalent (DFE) values for some special nutritional products have been updated.

Changes in fat requirements for young children: In NutVal 4.0 the nutritional requirements of additional age groups were introduced. These included 6-23, 24-59, and 6-59 months. Fat requirements were calculated for all groups according to UNHCR/UNICEF/WFP/WHO (2002), i.e. as the % of energy that should be supplied from fat. For the general population the minimum percentage is specified as 17%, for pregnant and lactating women it is 20%, and for young children it is 30%. In NutVal 4.0 the definition of young child was taken as 6-23 months, as this was consistent with WHO definitions used in work on infant and young child feeding. However, this resulted in the fat requirements for these age groups being less than recommended by other expert committees. In NutVal 4.1 is has been decided, for the purposes of calculating fat requirements, to define a 'young child' as aged between 6 and 59 months. This results in an increase in the fat requirements for these age groups and the higher requirement figures are included in NutVal 4.1.

Data saving: A bug which prevented the saving of nutrient values entered by the user on the calculation sheet has been fixed.

Please continue to provide feedback and report any bugs so we can continue to improve NutVal for nutrition programming. Thanks!

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