Standard Of Food

Standard Of Food
Most of our people are satisfied by filling their bellies with some foodstuffs. Most people ignore the nutritious aspect of the food they eat. The prevalence of malnutrition is due to insufficient intake of foodstuffs. To assess the nutritional status, dietary intake must be calculated. Diet surveys collect information about dietary intake, habits, preservation methods, cooking methods, and special diets for particular conditions and diseases. Diet surveys also provide information regarding the economic and social factors influencing food production and consumption patterns of families and communities. To conduct diet surveys, certain elements are to be taken into account. They are trained personnel, population sampling, various methods available for conducting diet surveys and data analysis, and calculations of nutritional values.

The persons to conduct diet surveys must be trained in conducting such surveys. They must be prepared to create rapport with the homemakers and adopt tactful methods to collect information. They must be aware of other principles of nutrition and dietary habits of the local Population sampling must be carried out with the help of a statistician. The choice of diet survey methods depends on the purpose of the survey.

The sample size also depends on the purpose of the survey, availability of trained personnel, time, and resources like money. The duration of the study depends on the purpose and methods adopted. Usually, 7 to 10 days are preferred for diet surveys.

Commonly used methods in our country are:

The oral questionnaire method.

The food inventory or logbook method.

The weighing of raw and cooked foods.

Oral Questionnaire Method: Oral questionnaire or interview is the most commonly used method of diet survey. The investigator has to formulate a diet survey questionnaire depending on the purpose. After conducting a pilot study with the questionnaire, changes can be made to the pattern of the questions. Then the investigator goes door to door and collects information regarding the types and qualities of foods consumed.

The data is imperfect; only approximate amounts can be collected through this method. Therefore, this method is suitable only for collecting information on the general dietary patterns or an inaccurate picture of the nutritional habits of a large section of the population.

General ideas like the choice of foods, foods avoided in certain conditions, foods included in particular situations or festivals, food fads, and fallacies are to be collected. The advantages of the questionnaire method are that it is not time-consuming. Therefore, many families can be covered within a specific time.

Food Inventory or Log Book Method: This method can be used only with a literate group because a book with questions is entrusted to the head of the family or the homemaker. The person charged must enter all purchases in the book. Full cooperation from the householder is essential because the reliability of the data depends upon the entry. Therefore at times, the data may need to be more authentic.

Weighing of Raw and Cooked Foods: This method is the most reliable. But it is time-consuming, and therefore, it is only used for a small sample. As the investigator cannot leave the questionnaire with the householder, she has to stay near and record the number of various foods before and after cooking.

The amount of food used can be recorded by weighing the leftovers after consumption. Often the housewife shows more raw foods to give a wrong impression about their food intake. Therefore the investigator must have some practical knowledge about the quantities of cooked foods from various sources.

A group adult consumption unit is calculated to determine a family's nutritional adequacy. In this method, the heterogenic groups of people, i.e., school-going, adult, senior, pregnant, and a uniform calculation, can be applied. This makes the total requirement calculation simple.

For the adult consumption unit, a passive man is taken as one adult consumption unit (ACU), and the calorie requirements of other age groups and special groups are expressed in proportionate adult consumption units.

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