In support of INDDEX’s objective to develop technologies to standardize and streamline the collection and analysis of individual-level dietary data, a team of researchers from RTI International’s Food, Nutrition, and Obesity Policy Research program is conducting a study to develop, evaluate and validate methods of visually representing portion sizes during dietary data collection in low-income countries. The study will be conducted in two phases. The first phase will include formative work with women in both urban and rural Malawi as well as a step-wise approach to determine and develop the most appropriate portion size estimation aid (PSEA) formats. The second phase will consist of a validation study of the developed PSEAs and current standard practice against the gold standard of weighed food portions. Results of this study will help inform which pictorial or other portion size estimation aids should accompany the dietary data collection application designed by INDDEX.

Mary K. Muth, PhD

Dr. Muth is the director of RTI International’s Food, Nutrition, and Obesity Policy Research Program and has nearly 20 years of experience analyzing the impacts of policies, regulations, and other initiatives affecting the food, agriculture, and related industries. Dr. Muth specializes in analyses to evaluate policy and provide information for policy development in the areas of nutrition, food security, food pricing, food safety, and other food policy topics. She has extensive experience with multiple modes of primary data collection; analyzing food availability, purchase, and consumption data; and developing economic models of the impacts of food policy. Dr. Muth received her PhD in Economics from North Carolina State University and an MS in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University. She is also an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University.

Valerie Flax, PhD, MPH

Valerie Flax is a nutrition interventionist and evaluator in RTI International’s Food, Nutrition, and Obesity Policy Research Program. She has nearly 20 years of experience implementing public health programs and conducting research in low- and middle-income countries. Her research uses a mix of ethnographic, observation, and epidemiologic methods and focuses on 1) evaluation of large-scale nutrition programs, 2) design and testing of innovative community-based interventions to improve infant and young child feeding practices, and 3) examination of the use and effects of micronutrient-fortified supplementary food for mothers and infants. Dr. Flax earned her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Tampere, Finland and an MPH in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She also currently serves as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Courtney Schnefke, MPH, RD

Courtney Schnefke is a public health analyst in RTI International’s Food, Nutrition, and Obesity Policy Research Program. As a registered dietitian, Courtney has experience in clinical nutrition, community nutrition programs both domestically and globally, food and nutrition communications as well as international nutrition research. She has training in and experience with qualitative research methods, including data analysis and the development of data collection tools, as well as supporting research activities for process and impact evaluations. Courtney also has extensive experience with collecting individual dietary intake data. She completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital and earned an MPH in Nutrition as well as a Certificate in Global Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.