New Dietary Diversity Indicator for Women


by kkeeton

A woman preparing food in Satkhira, Bangladesh. Photo credit: M. Yousuf Tushar/ WorldFish

A woman preparing food in Satkhira, Bangladesh. Photo credit: M. Yousuf Tushar/ WorldFish

A new dietary diversity indicator to assess the micronutrient adequacy of women’s diets has been developed, called Minimum Dietary Diversity – Women (MDD-W). It was created following a consensus meeting hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA) in July 2014. The new indicator reflects consumption of at least five of ten food groups, and may be used as a new global tool for assessment, target-setting, and advocacy.


As nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions move up in the global development agenda, there has been increased demand for high quality indicators that measure food consumption and diet quality. Currently, the 9-point food group score is being used to measure women’s dietary diversity by many organizations, including FAO and USAID.  Furthermore, the women’s dietary diversity score is also included as one of six outcome level indicators in the USAID 10-year multi-sectoral nutrition strategy, released earlier this year.


The new MDD-W indicator is unique because unlike former measurements, it not only gauges the amount of dietary diversity in women’s diets, but it also offers a specific threshold for meeting women’s micronutrient needs. For example, women who consume foods from at least five out of ten outlined food groups below have a higher likelihood of micronutrient adequacy.


MDD-W food groups
1. All starchy staple foods 6. Eggs
2. Beans and peas 7. Vitamin A-rich dark green leafy vegetables
3. Nuts and seeds 8. Other vitamin A-rich vegetables and fruits
4. Dairy 9. Other vegetables
5. Flesh foods 10. Other fruits


This dichotomous indicator can help practitioners set nutrition targets for women, advocate for healthier diets, and assess consumption patterns in order to improve women’s nutrition. Through widespread adoption where relevant, the indicator can eventually be included in global monitoring frameworks for nutrition.


Read more about the Minimum Dietary Diversity – Women (MDD-W) Global Dietary Diversity Indicator for Women here