Advocacy,  Demographic and Health Surveys

Recommendations to update nutrition content of the Demographic and Health Surveys

Over the past five months, Data for Decisions to Expand Nutrition Transformation (DataDENT) has been working with a diverse group of lead authors and technical reviewers from the nutrition community to develop a set of ten recommendations for the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS)-8 core questionnaire. We’re excited to share that the recommendations have been submitted to the DHS Program’s DHS-8 Questionnaire Review Portal

In a previous blog post, we described how DHS is the most commonly used source of population-based nutrition data and the types of nutrition data DHS currently collects. The DHS Program revises the core questionnaire about every five years and is currently accepting recommendations until March 15. This is a key opportunity to ensure that the DHS nutrition content reflect critical nutrition data needs, recent advancements in nutrition measurement, and current global and country nutrition guidelines.

The ten nutrition recommendations submitted to the DHS Program originated from two consultations held in September 2018 – the Joint Consultation on Approaches to Measure Coverage of Nutrition Counselling Interventions and Technical Consultation on Measuring Nutrition in Population-Based Household Surveys and Associated Facility Assessments. DataDENT has worked with lead authors to align recommendations to the DHS Program’s requirements, provide technical support, and coordinate recommendations with those submitted by the newborn, child, and maternal communities. The recommendations have also been reviewed and endorsed by several institutions, including WHO-UNICEF Technical Experts Group for Nutrition Monitoring (TEAM), Countdown to 2030, Alive & Thrive, the nutrition team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Recommendation title

Link to post on DHS Program forum

Coverage of Nutritional Interventions during Antenatal Care (ANC)


Support for Breastfeeding at Health Facilities—linked to monitoring of Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI)


Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes


Counseling about Breastfeeding at Early Critical Time Points


Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Counseling 6-23 Months


Assessment of Child Growth


Updated Indicators for Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF)


Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women (MDD-W) and Unhealthy Diets


Measuring Household Food Insecurity


Food Fortification: Household coverage of fortifiable foods


A summary of the development process and the ten recommendations is available here.

How can you participate in the DHS-8 questionnaire review process and support these recommendations? 

Critical to the DHS core questionnaire review process is demonstrating that the proposed recommendations meet existing and emerging critical data needs. Before the DHS-8 Questionnaire Review Portal closes on March 15, we encourage you to:

1. Register as a DHS Program Forum user [link]
2. Review the posted recommendations
3. Comment on the thread of each recommendation to share support/endorse on behalf of you or your institution

Comments that illustrate how the proposed data can and will be used are especially helpful. Please refer to the DHS Program’s guide for more information on how to post comments [link]. Recommendations posted by DataDENT have “By: DataDENT” adjacent to the forum post title.


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