The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2 is to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”. With increased attention to the linkages among food systems, human health, and environmental sustainability for achieving SDG 2, there is an urgent need to draw on data, analytics, and evidence that can elucidate key elements of this multi-sectoral nexus. However, a critical, yet seemingly obvious, data element describing most of the world’s population is frequently unavailable: information on what people eat. Countries have traditionally viewed dietary data as too complex or expensive to collect. Mechanisms that would streamline the collection and use of dietary data – including new technology and a national and global infrastructure for collecting and using dietary data – are non-existent in most countries. And yet, in order to effectively design policies and programs and to monitor progress toward SDG 2, increasing our knowledge of human diets is critical. Recent reports and briefs have echoed the urgency of this need (Global Nutrition Report; Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition Brief), pressing researchers and governments to invest in tracking food and nutrient consumption and dietary patterns in order to achieve food security and nutrition, promote sustainable agriculture, and end hunger.
The International Dietary Data Expansion (INDDEX) Project has been designed to tackle the critical issues of dietary data scarcity, high cost, inaccessibility, low quality, and under-use that have long impaired effective food, nutrition, and agricultural policy and programming. The INDDEX team will facilitate low-income countries’ increased acquisition and use of high quality, timely, food and nutrient consumption data to improve agriculture, sustainable food security, and nutrition impacts. Through the following four integrated objectives, we aim to standardize and streamline the collection and analysis of food consumption data.
- Development of technologies to standardize and streamline the collection and analysis of individual-level dietary data;
- Improve the design and use of the food data collected in household consumption and expenditure surveys;
- Demonstrate how to appropriately use 'fit-for-purpose’ indicators and analyses from dietary intake data, HCES, and food balance data;
- Develop guidance that will effectively communicate these scientific advancements and technological achievements to international stakeholders.
By empowering a set of national champions and demonstrating success in these target countries, we also aim to catalyze mechanisms that will expand our impact to a broader regional and global constituency. Ultimately, the normative guidance and tools that the project generates will be housed within international organizations and national networks, in order to be widely accessible after the project ends and to evolve with changing demands.