Objectives : To systematically identify, compile, and harmonize national and sub-national individual-level dietary data around the world using a common food classification and description system (FCDS); promote collaboration with data owners worldwide; and publicly disseminate methods and datasets to the global nutrition community.
Methods : The Global Dietary Database (GDD) and the FAO/WHO Global Individual Food consumption data Tool (FAO/WHO GIFT) initiative, in collaboration with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), developed a framework to standardize the characterization of 24-hour recall and food record survey data at their finest level, using FoodEx2 (Figure). FoodEx2 is a comprehensive FCDS developed by EFSA, adapted for international high-quality food characterization and methodologically superior to prior international FCDS. Single food items are characterized through a classification system (hierarchical nested food groups) and 32 description elements (facets), such as cooking process. Standardized criteria, procedures, and templates were developed to: (1) identify and (2) prioritize eligible surveys for FoodEx2 mapping; (3) efficiently contact data owners and obtain approval for public dissemination; (4) allocate financial assistance as appropriate; (5) obtain survey information and assess survey and diet tool quality; (6) train data owners on dataset preparation and FoodEx2 mapping; (7) collect harmonized microdata, including structure, sociodemographics, diet metrics, units of measure, and food characterization; and (8) publicly disseminate methods and datasets via the GDD and FAO/WHO GIFT platforms.
Results : A total of 151 surveys have been identified as high priority. Harmonization has been completed for 24 European surveys by EFSA, which will be incorporated in the GDD and FAO/WHO GIFT platforms upon approval of data owners; 8 surveys by FAO/WHO GIFT; and is ongoing for another 4. Thus far, the data owners of 53 surveys from 41 countries, including Brazil, India, and Iran, confirmed interest in joining; all surveys either used none or a local FCDS.
Conclusions : These new methods developed will provide the most comprehensive and standardized databases of dietary intakes worldwide. Such global dietary data harmonization is imperative for global diet monitoring and informed priority setting.
Funding Sources : Gates Foundation