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Guiding Framework: Data Sources

Weighed Food Record (WFR)


Weighed Food Records (WFR), also called weighed food diaries or simply weighed records, are considered the "gold standard" of quantitative dietary assessment methods. WFR require the respondent or enumerator to weigh all food and beverages at the time of consumption. Any plate waste must also be recorded. Subjects are also asked to document a description of the food as well as details on preparation methods and brand names.

If working in a low literacy or low numeracy population the presence of a trained enumerator throughout the entire dietary assessment period is required. While WFR provide very accurate estimates of dietary intake, they can be intrusive and time-consuming, as well as potentially distort the behavior of respondents.

Though no dietary assessment methodology can completely prevent measurement error, WFR are often considered the most precise method when it comes to quantifying food intake since each food is weighed, eliminating issues associated with portion size estimation. As a result of the high degree of accuracy produced by WFR they are often used as the reference method in validation studies of other dietary assessment methods.


  • Offer a high degree of accuracy in assessing food and nutrient intake relative
to recall-based dietary assessment methods
  • Provide quantitative estimates of individual food consumption and nutrient intake
  • Take into account preparation methods and the effect on estimated nutrient content
  • Can account for foods consumed together that may enhance or inhibit micronutrient absorption


  • Expensive and time consuming to implement
  • Significant training is required to minimize errors in data collection and enumerators are required in low-literacy populations
  • Due to time and cost associated with WFR, data are frequently collected from small samples that are not nationally representative
  • Enumerator-administered weighed records are intrusive and can distort respondent behavior (this issue can be minimized if respondents are able keep their own diet records)
  • To capture seasonal variation, the survey must be repeated in multiple seasons

Key take-away points: Methods and types of indicators that can and cannot be derived with these data:

There are a number of ways that WFR data can be leveraged for food security and nutrition analyses. Some specific examples of how they can be used include:

  • Due to the high cost and time investment, WFR are generally best used to provide a “gold standard” for the relative validation of other dietary assessment methods such as food frequency questionnaires
  • Indicators can be constructed that measure individual intake in order to assess nutrient adequacy


1) Coates et al. (2012), Applying Dietary Assessment Methods for Food Fortification and Other Nutrition Programs:

24-Hour Dietary Recall (24HR)

7 Indicators Cultural Preference Quality Quantity

Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS)

2 Indicators Quality Quantity

Food Balance Sheets (FBS)

10 Indicators Quality Quantity Stability Sustainability

Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ)

5 Indicators Cultural Preference Quality Quantity

Household Consumption and Expenditure Surveys (HCES)

11 Indicators Cultural Preference Quality Quantity

Market data (e.g. Euromonitor)

6 Indicators Quality Quantity Stability


4 Indicators Quality Quantity

Weighed Food Record (WFR)

6 Indicators Cultural Preference Quality Quantity

Data Collection Level: Individual