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Food Aid Information System

ASSESSING NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

The Nutritional Requirements are based on the requirements for different population groups specified by age, sex, weight and physical activity. The average requirements are a weighted average by using the size of each age-sex group as weights. This includes specific needs for pregnant and lactating women. These requirements are not the individual requirements of a particular individual, but an average for a group that is representative of the population in a developing country. Food aid programming guidelines usually give specific suggestions for adjustments based on climate, abnormal demographic distributions and specific nutritional needs of the beneficiary population. 

Nutritional Requirements for an average individual may lead to “the apparent contradiction of attempting to meet the requirements of populations based on the diverse and heterogeneous needs of individuals, it is in fact, a necessary step in providing optimal health – a long life, free of physical and mental disability – to all individuals.” (FAO/WHO, 2002). 

The indicators include Energy and 13 nutrients: 2 macronutrients: Fat and Protein; and 11 micronutrients: Iodine, Iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Niacin, Thiamine, Riboflavine, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid), Vitamin B12 and Zinc. The selection of these nutrients took into account the most essential nutrients for a healthy and active human life and data availability in terms of the Food Composition Tables.

WHO (2000) has been used as the standard reference for Nutritional Requirements. The Nutritional Requirements for Energy and 10 out of 13 nutrients are from WHO (2000). The exceptions are Protein, Vitamin B6 and Zinc. WHO (2000) recommends 46 gram of Protein per day, which is low compared to the Sphere Project (2004). The Sphere Project (2004) recommends 52 gram, which is in line with WFP guidelines. In the case of Vitamin B6, none of the major nutritional guidelines suggests a value for an average individual, only for age-sex groups (EC, 1992). A Nutritional Requirement was computed as a weighted average, using the same size of the sex-age groups as weights as the other Nutritional Requirements. The Nutritional Requirement for Zinc was also not available in WHO (2000). Instead, the recommendation of the Sphere Project (2004) was adopted. 

 

 

References 

European Commission, 1992, Nutrient and Energy intakes for the EC, Report of the Scientific Committee for Food. 

FAO/WHO, 2002, Vitamin and Mineral Requirements in Human Nutrition.

The Sphere Project, 2004, Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response

WHO, 2000, The Management of Nutrition in Major Emergencies

UNHCR/UNICEF/WFP/WHO, 2002, Food and Nutrition Needs in Emergencies.