Having accurate and updated information regarding a population’s food intake is essential for the development of the best strategies and the decision-making process.
In order to develop food policies, it is essential to have updated data regarding population’s food intake, its evolution and its association with the population’s sociodemographic and geographic profiles.
These data can be collected indirectly, by analyzing the availability of different food categories per capita, through the calculation of variations in importation and exportation of foods, in national production and changes in stocks as described in the Portuguese Food Balance (BAP) made available by the National Institute of Statistics (INE).
Information regarding food availability can also be collected using Household Budget Surveys (IOF) – applied to a representative sample of the country’s households, with regional stratification. The amount of money spent on food is a part if the data gathered by the INE every 5 years.
A more direct way of collecting the required data is through observational studies of the food intake of representative groups of the population (National Food Surveys). The last Portuguese National Food Survey dates back to 1980. However, more recently, nutrition surveys to specific age groups or in limited geographic areas have been done, allowing for an idea, yet partial, of the national nutritional status.