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Cost of the Diet software uses the collected data to generate hypothetical diets using a combination of foods that will enable a family to meet their energy and nutrient requirements, as recommended by the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, at the lowest possible cost


Limitations, or constraints, may be used to reflect typical household food consumption patterns. For example, specifying that a particular food is eaten three times a day, every day. In this way, the software can identify a diet that is not realistic in terms of the frequency with which foods are eaten.


The software can estimate the cost of four hypothetical diets:


1. Energy-only diet: Meets specified needs for energy only
2. Macronutrient diet:  Meets specified needs for energy, fat and protein only
3. Nutritious diet: Meets specified needs for all nutrients at lowest cost
4. Food habits, nutritious diet: Meets specified needs for all nutrients at lowest cost using typically consumed local foods


The software produces the following outputs for each of the four diets:


 For an individual or household:

  • Average daily cost of the diet
  • Average monthly cost of the diet
  • Daily cost of the diet by season
  • Percentage of nutrient specifications met by the diets, by season 
  • Annual cost of the diet
  • Annual diet summary 
  • Affordability of diets by wealth group, if HEA data available (or other income source)
  • Cost of the food groups by week (food habits diet only)
  • Seasonal cost fluctuations (food habits diet only)

For each food selected by the software:

  • Total daily weight (g) 
  • Total weekly weight (g) 
  • Edible daily weight (g)
  • Edible weekly weight (g) 
  • Cost of the edible daily weight
  • Cost of the edible weekly amount 
  • Daily number of servings
  • Weekly number of servings 
  • Daily amount of each nutrient provided by the edible portion
  • Weekly quantity of each nutrient provided by the edible portion 
  • Percentage (%) of each nutrient target provided a day by the edible portion 
  • Percentage (%) of each nutrient target provided a week by the edible portion 


Cost of the Diet software can:

  • Estimate minimum cost of a locally specified diet for a range of household types
  • Take into account seasonal variation in prices
  • Identify the least expensive sources of energy and all nutrients
  • Identify nutrients for which it may be hard to meet requirements
  • Identify the foods that contribute the most to the cost of the diet
  • Estimate the cost of the diet for typical families (between 5-10 members), aligned with income data generated from HEA, to estimate the affordability
  • Estimate the impact on the diet or its cost of potential interventions that might help households meet their needs for energy and nutrients


'What if?' models may be generated in Cost of the Diet, for specific individuals or households as a whole, to determine the potential effect of:

  • New or existing nutrition interventions
  • New or existing food security interventions
  • New or existing social protection interventions
  • Changing the nutrient specifications
  • Sudden shocks
  • Current infant and young child feeding practices

... on the cost, quality, composition and affordability of a nutritious diet.