Module 8: Designing a Nutrition Survey

When designing a nutrition survey, it is important to clearly define the objectives of the survey and the type of information sought. Nutrition information could be used for multiple purposes: to provide baseline nutrition data to track changes over time imposed by a supplementation intervention, to measure the coverage of school feeding programs, or to measure the prevalence of anemia in a population. It is important to have a properly designed set of questions that adequately compliment the purpose of the study. Preliminary research, such as literary reviews, could help inform the development of a quality survey.   

It is important to define a geographic target area for the survey to represent, whether it is a community, a region, or a country. While an appropriate sampling method should then be designed to represent the target population assessed, it is crucial that the sample size be appropriate to generate valid results.(1) The consideration for the sample also includes the demographic recruited. For instance, in areas where women are the primary providers of food, women will have the most knowledge regarding household dietary intake and food security.    

When collecting data from interviews, it is important to ensure that the interviewer uses suitable interviewing skills to acquire information. In order to minimize bias and errors from poor memory, questions should be limited to a certain time period, such as a week or month prior to the day of the interview. Attention should also be made to adapt survey techniques to the social and cultural customs of the community in which data is being collected. 

General considerations:(2)

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(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2005). A Manual: Measuring and Interpreting Malnutrition and Mortality. Accessed 31 October 2011. 

(2) Ibid.

(3) FAO (2003). Measurement and assessment of food deprivation and undernutrition. Proceedings of the International Scientific Symposium; June 26-28 2002; Rome, Italy. Accessed 31 October 2011.