Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Predicting dietary intakes with simple food recall information: a case study from rural Mozambique


Objective: Improving dietary status is an important development objective, but monitoring of progress in this area can be too costly for many low-income countries. This paper demonstrates a simple, inexpensive technique for monitoring household diets in Mozambique.

Design: Secondary analysis of data from an intensive field survey on household food consumption and agricultural practices, known as the Nampula/Cabo Delgado Study (NCD).

Subjects: In total, 388 households in 16 villages from a stratified random sample of rural areas in Nampula and Cabo Delgado provinces in northern Mozambique.

Methods: The NCD employed a quantitative 24-h food recall on two nonconsecutive days in each of the three different seasons. A dietary intake prediction model was developed with linear regression techniques based on NCD nutrient intake data and easy-to-collect variables, such as food group consumption and household size The model was used to predict the prevalence of low intakes among subsamples from the field study using only easy-to-collect variables.

Results: Using empirical data for the harvest season from the original NCD study, 40% of the observations on households had low-energy intakes, whereas rates of low intake for protein, vitamin A, and iron, were 14, 94, and 39, respectively. The model developed here predicted that 42% would have low-energy intakes and that 12, 93, and 35% would have low-protein, vitamin A, and iron intakes, respectively. Similarly, close predictions were found using an aggregate index of overall diet quality.

Conclusions: This work demonstrates the potential for using low-cost methods for monitoring dietary intake in Mozambique.

Sponsorship: Michigan State University and the Mozambican Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1


  • Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Health Organisation (FAO and WHO) (1988): Requirements of Vitamin A, Iron, Folate, and Vitamin B12 . FAO Food and Nutrition Series 23 Rome Food and Agriculture Organisation.

  • Food and Agriculture Organisation/World Health Organisation/United Nations University (FAO/WHO/UNU) (1985): Energy and Protein Requirements: Report of a Joint FAO/WHO/UNU Expert consultation. WHO Technical Report Series 724. Geneva: World Health Organisation.

  • Food, Health and Nutrition Information System/Central Statistical Office (FHANIS/CSO) (1998): FHANIS Urban Report: Monitoring of the Household Food Security, Health, and Nutrition in Urban Areas. Lusaka, Zambia: Central Statistical Office.

  • Food and Nutrition Board, Institut of Medicine (FNB) (2000): Dietary Reference Intakes: Applications in Dietary Assessment. Washington: National Academy Press.

  • Food and Nutrition Board, National Research Council (FNB) (1986): Nutrient Adequacy Assessment Using Food Consumption Surveys. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

  • Grupo Inter-Sectonal de Mapeamento e Avaliação da Vulnerabilidade (GISMAV) (1998): Avaliação da Vulnerabilidade em Moçambique, 1997/1998: Uma Análise Preliminar da Actual Vulnerabilidade da Insegurança Alimentar e Nutricional. Maputo: Governo da República de Moçambique.

  • Guthrie HA & Scheer JC (1981): Validity of a dietary score for assessing nutrient adequacy. J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 78, 240–245.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hatløy A, Torheim LE & Oshaug A (1998) Food variety—a good indicator of nutritional adequacy of the diet? A case study from an urban area in Mali, West Africa. Eur. J Clin. Nutr. 52, 891–898.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) (1997): Summary of Conversion Factors and Densities; Major Crops in Malawi. Washington, DC: IFPRI.

  • James WPT & Schofield EC (1994): Necessidades Humanas de Energia: Um Manual Para Planejadores e Nutricionistas. Rio de Janeiro: Institute Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística and Rome: Food and Agriculture Organisation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Leung WW, Busson F & Jardin C (1968): Food Composition Tables for Use in Africa. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organisation and Bethesda, MD: US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

    Google Scholar 

  • Medical Research Council (MRC) (1999): South African Food Composition Database Version 1.2. Tygerberg: Medical Research Council.

  • Ministério de Saúde, Repartição de Nutrição (MISAU) (1991): Tabela de Composição de Alimentos. Maputo: Ministério de Saúde.

  • Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and Michigan State University (MAF and MSU) (1996): Smallholder Cash Cropping, Food Cropping, and Food Security in Northern Mozambique: Research methods. Working Paper No 22, Maputo: Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and Michigan State University.

  • Rose D, Strasberg P, Jeje JJ & Tschirley D (1999): Household Food Consumption in Northern Mozambique: A Case Study in Three Northern Provinces. MAF/MSU Research Paper No 33. Maputo: Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and Michigan State University.

    Google Scholar 

  • Strasberg P (1997): Smallholder Cash Cropping, Food Cropping, and Food Security in Northern Mozambique. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing.

  • US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA) (1999): USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 13. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,

  • West CE, Pepping F & Temalilwa CR (1988) The Composition of Foods Commonly Eaten in East Africa. Wageningen: Wageningen Agricultural University.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


We would like to acknowledge the hard work of Paul Strasberg, who coordinated the original field data collection effort as part of his doctoral dissertation, as well as all the Mozambican analysts and field workers, including Jose Jaime Jeje, Ana Paula Santos, Higino Marrule, and Rui Benfica who assisted us with this work.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



Guarantor: D Rose.

Contributors: DR designed this study and performed the data analysis. DT is co-director of MSU's Mozambique Food Security Project, under which both the original field work and this secondary data analysis were conducted. DR was the lead author and DT was the second author on the write-up of this paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to D Rose.



Nutrient reference standards (see Table 7).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rose, D., Tschirley, D. Predicting dietary intakes with simple food recall information: a case study from rural Mozambique. Eur J Clin Nutr 57, 1212–1221 (2003).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Africa
  • Mozambique
  • household study
  • dietary assessment methods
  • diet quality index
  • nutrient intake

This article is cited by


Quick links