Hands-on Anthropometry: A South African Handbook for Large-Scale Nutrition Studies

Anthropometry, the science of measuring and evaluating human body size and proportions, is the backbone of most nutrition surveys and a core component of nutrition assessment.
The purpose of this manual is to:
• outline equipment requirements,
• detail the training of fieldworkers and
• provide guidelines for quality assurance procedures
for basic anthropometric measurements of able-bodied persons in multi-site research studies. The emphasis is on the South African setting, especially for tertiary education and research institutions, when numerous fieldworkers must be trained to take anthropometric measurements for a research study.

There is growing concern around the impact of formal retailers and supermarkets, in particular on marginalised urban communities in developing countries. This report unpacks the impact of formal retailers on informal micro-enterprises through a case study in Philippi East township, Cape Town. The cases focuses on a high street precinct which encompasses a number of formal food retailers and supermarkets. Supermarkets are the main supply of household food (in value terms), with residents spending about one third of their food purchases at one of three outlets.

In this report, we examine the determinants of child malnutrition using the Birth to Twenty data, a cohort study of children born in Soweto-Johannesburg in 1990. In particular, we focus on the causes of low height-for-age, or stunting, at age two, the measure most commonly used to capture chronic undernutrition in children. The consequences of stunting in early childhood have been widely studied across various disciplines, and include impaired cognitive function, poor schooling outcomes, reduced earnings in adulthood and poor maternal reproductive health outcomes (Walker, Chang, Powell & Grantham-McGregor, 2005; Victora et al. 2008; Dewey & Begum, 2011).

Purpose of manual

  • To describe the procedures used to collect dietary intake data using a 24-hour dietary recall method for research participants older than two years.
  • To guide researchers to assemble a dietary kit for their study.
  • To be used as a resource by researchers when training interviewers to conduct a 24-hour dietary recall.
  • This manual should not be used for dietary assessment of infants.
  • This manual does not include information on baby foods, alcoholic drinks or nutritional supplements.

End-user defined

  • Collecting, analysing and interpreting dietary intake data is a specialised field.
  • Dietary intake data should be overseen and managed by trained dietitians or nutritionists.
  • The person taking overall responsibility for the dietary data as well the person who will train the interviewers must be experienced in collecting dietary intake data.
  • This manual should therefore be used by only dietitians or nutritionist who are experienced in collecting dietary intake data.

The use of a 24-hour dietary recall within the context of food security

Dietary intake data collected by 24-hour recall can be used to:

– determine the types of food and liquids consumed

– assess average nutrient intakes for groups of >50 individuals per group

– calculate dietary diversity scores 1,2

– calculate dietary quality scores

– evaluate food intake in terms of food-based dietary guidelines 3

– determine food patterns

– determine the contribution of specific foods to nutrient intake

A single 24-hour recall cannot be used for the habitual dietary intake of an individual.

The content of the manual (e.g. the language use, foods) is relevant to the South African context at the time of the development of the manual.

IMPORTANT: The intention of this manual is not to cover ALL different types of food on the market, but rather to sensitise the researcher to the pitfalls to look out for. New types of food and beverages enter the market daily. It is the responsibility of the researcher to familiarise her/himself with the latest foods and beverages available on the market and include it as examples in the dietary kit.

1 Kennedy GA, Ballard T, Dop MC. Guidelines for measuring household and individual dietary diversity. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization, 2010. Available at: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/wa_workshop/docs/FAOguidelines-dietary-diversity2011.pdf [accessed 23 April 2016]

2 Martin-Pr vela Y, Allemanda P, Wiesmann D, Arimond M, Ballard T, Deitchler M, Dopa M-C, Kennedy G, Leed WTK, Moursi M. On choosing a standard operational indicator of women’s dietary diversity. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization, 2015. Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4942e.pdf [accessed 23 April 2016]

3 Food-based dietary guidelines for South Africa. South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013; 26(3) (Supplement): S2 – S164. Available at: http://www.sajcn.co.za