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Comparative analysis of nutrition data from national, household, and individual levels: results from a WHO-CINDI collaborative project in Canada, Finland, Poland, and Spain
  1. L Serra-Majem1,2,
  2. D MacLean3,
  3. L Ribas2,
  4. D Brulé4,
  5. W Sekula5,
  6. R Prattala6,
  7. R Garcia-Closas2,
  8. A Yngve7,
  9. M Lalonde8,
  10. A Petrasovits8
  1. 1Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
  2. 2Community Nutrition Research Centre, Science Park of the University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  3. 3Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhovile University, Canada
  4. 4Bureau of Nutritional Sciences, Food Directorate, Ottawa, Canada
  5. 5National Food and Nutrition Institute, Warsaw, Poland
  6. 6National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  7. 7Preventive Nutrition Unit, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  8. 8Health Promotion and Programs Branch, Health Canada, Ottawa, Canada
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor L Serra-Majem, Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, PO Box 550, 35080 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain;


Study objective: This project determined to what extent data on diet and nutrition, which were collected in a non-uniform manner, could be harmonised and pooled for international and national comparison.

Design: Direct comparisons of dietary data between studies were made using food balance sheets (FBS), household budget surveys (HBS), and individual dietary data (IDS); comparisons were also made within countries. Differences in study design and methodological approaches were taken into consideration. Data from research projects from the following four World Health Organisation (WHO) Countrywide Integrated Noncommunicable Disease Intervention (CINDI) countries were included—Canada, Finland, Poland, and Spain.

Main results: FBS overestimated food consumption and nutrient intake compared to IDS. Results between HBS and IDS were quite similar, except for fish, meat, pulses and vegetables, which were underestimated by HBS, and sugar and honey and cereals, which were overestimated. Percentages of energy from fat, carbohydrates and proteins were higher when estimated from FBS, HBS, and IDS respectively.

Conclusions: Results suggest that estimations from these three sources of dietary data are difficult to compare because they are measuring different levels of dietary information. The understanding of their relations may be important in formulating and evaluating a nutrition policy.

  • dietary surveys
  • risk factor surveillance
  • nutrition monitoring
  • FBS, food balance sheets
  • HBS, household budget surveys
  • IDS, individual dietary surveys
  • CINDI, Countrywide Integrated Noncommunicable Disease Intervention

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  • Funding: financial support was provided by: Health Service of the Canary Islands, Health Canada, Food Directorate of Canada, European Office of the World Health Organisation (CINDI and Nutrition Unit), University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Dalhovile University, Polish Institute of Food and Nutrition, Athens School of Public Health, City Hall of Bilbao, Autonomous Goverment of Catalonia, Karolinska Institute, and National Public Health Institute of Finland.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.

  • * In memory of Dr Mukund Nargundkar and Dr Andres Petrasovits