Nutrition Surveillance Systems

A nutrition surveillance system ideally collects information on all components in the relationship between food and health. This includes collecting data on food production, food supply and availability for consumption (national and household), food consumption patterns, dietary composition of foods, nutrient intake, nutrient utilization, and nutritional status. It also includes variables that may influence these processes, such as food culture, food security, lifestyle, knowledge, attitude and behavior toward food, and socio-demographic factors. Figure 2 depicts the relationship of food to health outcome and illustrates the various levels of influence. A nutrition surveillance system would ideally obtain nutrition information along that continuum from food supply to health. At the core of a nutrition surveillance system is the collection of dietary intake patterns because they provide a basis for nutritional risk assessment. These dietary data include information obtained from the national food supply and from food consumption by households and by individuals. Each type of data collected corresponds to a different stage in the food distribution chain and is obtained by different methods. Some of these methods are described next.

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