Global Dietary Database 2017: data availability and gaps on 54 major foods, beverages and nutrients among 5.6 million children and adults from 1220 surveys worldwide


Background: We aimed to systematically identify, standardise and disseminate individual-level dietary intake surveys from up to 207 countries for 54 foods, beverages and nutrients, including subnational intakes by age, sex, education and urban/rural residence, from 1980 to 2015.

Methods: Between 2008-2011 and 2014-2020, the Global Dietary Database (GDD) project systematically searched for surveys assessing individual-level intake worldwide. We prioritised nationally or subnationally representative surveys using 24-hour recalls, Food-Frequency Questionnaires or short standardised questionnaires. Data were retrieved from websites or corresponding members as individual-level food group microdata or aggregate stratum-level data. Standardisation included quality assessment; data cleaning; categorising of foods and nutrients and their units; aggregation by demographic strata and energy adjustment.

Results: We standardised and incorporated 1220 surveys into the final GDD 2017 database, together represented 188 countries and 99.0% of the world's population in 2015. 72.1% were nationally, 17.0% subnationally, and 10.9% community-level representative. 41.2% used Food-Frequency Questionnaires; 23.4%, 24-hour recalls; 15.8%, Demographic Health Survey questionnaires; 13.1%, biomarkers and 6.4%, household surveys. 73.9% of surveys included data on children; 52.2%, by urban and rural residence; and 30.2%, by education. Most surveys were in high-income countries, followed by sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Most commonly ascertained foods were fruits (N=803 surveys), non-starchy vegetables (N=787) and sugar-sweetened beverages (N=440); and nutrients, sodium (N=343), energy (N=256), calcium (N=224) and fibre (N=200). Least available data were on iodine, vitamin A, plant protein, selenium, added sugar and animal protein.

Conclusions: This systematic search, retrieval and standardised effort provides the most comprehensive empirical evidence on dietary intakes across and within countries worldwide.

Keywords: epidemiology; nutrition; public health.

BMJ Global Health
Display Date
February 5 2021