Guidelines for measuring household and individual dietary diversity

Technical Report

Individual dietary diversity scores 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. Dietary diversity scores have been validated for several age/sex groups as proxy measures for macro and/ or micronutrient adequacy of the diet. Scores have been positively correlated with adequate micronutrient density of complementary foods for infants and young children (FANTA, 2006), and macronutrient and micronutrient adequacy of the diet for non breast-fed children (Hatloy et al., 1998; Ruel et al., 2004; Steyn et al., 2006; Kennedy et al., 2007), adolescents (Mirmiran et al., 2004) and adults (Ogle et al., 2001; Foote et al., 2004; Arimond et al., 2010). Some of these validation studies refer to only one country while others have attempted to validate dietary diversity scores for several countries. Nevertheless, research is ongoing and there is currently no international consensus on which food groups to include in the scores at the individual level for different age/sex groups. The rationale for these guidelines is to provide a standardized questionnaire of universal applicability from which various dietary diversity scores can be calculated. As such it is not culture, population, or location specific and therefore, prior to using it in the field, it will be necessary to adapt it to the local context.

This is a revised version of the guidelines for measuring dietary diversity. The main changes in this version are i) the proposal for a new individual dietary diversity score based on results of the Women’s Dietary Diversity Project (Arimond et al., 2010) and ii) an annex on classifying food items into food groups. Guidance is provided on how to calculate the HDDS and the Women’s Dietary Diversity Score (WDDS), but users can also calculate scores obtained from the standardized questionnaire for individuals from other age/sex groups according to the needs of the study. The guidelines describe how to adapt and use the dietary diversity questionnaire, how to calculate each of the scores and how to create other indicators of interest from dietary diversity data.  

Date and language
Jan 2011
Physical Location: 
FPMU Documentation Center
Classification Number: 
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