Systematic review of use and interpretation of dietary diversity indicators in nutrition-sensitive agriculture literature
This article (PDF) in the Global Food Security journal assesss to what extent and how studies used and interpreted common metrics of dietary diversity, which would improve comparability across studies to produce global evidence of the impact of agriculture on nutrition and food security. In the past decade, food group dietary diversity indicators (FGIs) have increasingly been used to assess the impact of agriculture on food security or nutrition. The study reviewed use and interpretation of silmple food group dietary diversity indicators in 46 peer-reviewed studies. Most studies based on individual level FGIs were consistent with published guidance. However, half of the studies measuring households’ dietary diversity were not consistent, particularly in terms of interpretation of the indicators or of food group classification. Efforts are needed to harmonize the way FGIs are used and interpreted in order to enhance comparability across studies and allow meta-analyses of the association between agriculture and food security or nutrition. The authors recommend that investigators using a dietary diversity indicators that is not standard but suits their purpose should try, whenever possible, to also construct for their data a standard FGI for comparison purposes. Furthermore, investigators using a standard FGI on an age or gender group for which indicator was not validated should clearly acknowledge and discuss this point. Thereby, authors should avoid pooling data from several datasets that use different recall periods and that are likely to have a variable number of food items from which food groups are composed.