Food consumption and nutrient intake data are essential for identifying and assessing diets, monitoring diet quality, designing nutrition programs and informing food and nutrition policies. Household consumption and expenditure surveys (HCES) are increasingly being turned to as a source of food consumption data. HCES are a collection of multi-purpose surveys that collect a variety of data, including information about food consumption and acquisition. HCES include: 1) household budget surveys; 2) living standards measurement study; 3) household income and expenditure surveys and 4) integrated household surveys. The more than 125 countries that routinely conduct HCES have undertaken an average of seven surveys, with rounds, performed at 3–5 year intervals, consisting of interview data from a sample of about 15,000 households. Box 1 lists papers providing general introductions to HCES and guides to using them in food and nutrition analysis. Although HCES have been done in most countries for more than three decades, food and nutrition analysts have only recently become familiar with them because they have traditionally not been widely accessible. The surveys are designed, financed and conducted by central bank or ministry of finance macroeconomists to collect the data they require to construct consumer price indices and estimate labor force participation rates, gross domestic product and other economic indicators, and they generally have not shared them with others. Now, however, sparked by the need to track the Millennium Development Goals and their successors the Sustainable Development Goals, HCES have come to be an increasingly common source of data with which to devise evidence-based policies and to address growing demands for increased accountability.12 With HCES expected to play a prominent role in monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals,13 they are poised to become an increasingly familiar goto source for population-based food and nutrition information, much as the Demographic & Health Surveys (DHS) have become for health and nutrition data.
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