Introduction Understanding the impact of diet on chronic diseases globally has been limited by lack of systematically collected and comparable data on dietary habits on a global scale.
Methods We developed methods to collect nationally representative data on exposure distributions of 20 major dietary risk factors globally and in 21 world regions (196 countries), including total energy, fruits, fruit juices, vegetables, beans / legumes, nuts / seeds, whole-grains, red meats, processed meats, milk, sugar-sweetened beverages, saturated, polyunsaturated, seafood omega-3, plant omega-3, and trans fats, and dietary fibre, sodium, cholesterol and calcium. From Mar/2008 to Oct/2010, searches were performed using multiple online databases, hand-searching of references, and direct author contact. Standardised protocols for quality assessment, data analysis and data extraction were developed.
Results Relevant published data were very limited, requiring direct author contact (85% of the surveys). We identified and obtained data from 164 nationally and 21 non-nationally representative surveys from 79 countries in 17 regions. Four regions of the world lacked representative data: Latin America-Andean, and East, Central, and West Sub-Saharan Africa. Survey sample sizes ranged from >10 000 (34 surveys), 5000–10 000 (23), 1000–5000 (90), and <1000 (38). Dietary assessment methods included FFQs (86), diet recall/records (88), and others (11). Data were most frequently available for fruits, vegetables, red meats, and milk, and least for trans-fats, plant omega-3, and polyunsaturated fats.
Conclusion A systematic, comprehensive, and global search allowed compilation of dietary data for most world regions, providing data for estimation of global impact on chronic diseases. Insufficient data in certain regions and for specific nutrients is also evident.
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