Nutrition | Events and meetings | Workshop to standardize and update regional food composition tables held in Amman, Jordan, on 19–20 April 2017

Workshop to standardize and update regional food composition tables held in Amman, Jordan, on 19–20 April 2017

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Participants of the workshop gathered for a group photographA training workshop to standardize and update food composition tables, reflecting sugar, saturated fatty acids (SFA), trans fatty acids (TFA) and salt contents in the Region, was held in Amman, Jordan, on 19–20 April 2017.

The workshop was organized by WHO in collaboration with the UK's Institute of Food Research and attended by key partners involved in the preparation and updating of food composition tables. The training shared with them international standards and new chemical analysis techniques for salt, fat (SFA, TFA), sugar and vitamin D.

Dr Christina Profili, WHO Representative in Jordan inaugurated the training with Dr Ayoub Aljawaldeh, WHO Regional Adviser for Nutrition and Dr Paul Finglas of the Institute of Food Research. Certificates of appreciation were distributed to the facilitators and certificates of participation were distributed to participants.

A previous workshop, held in Morocco in September 2016, to review and regulate the food composition tables used by countries, had recommended that regional training take place for research centres responsible for the standardization of food composition tables in the Region.

Food composition tables traditionally include a variety of nutrients and other components of foods thought to be related to health. However, these tables may miss key nutrients linked to health and nutrition status such as saturated fatty acids (SFA), trans fatty acids (TFA), salt, sugar, vitamin D, zinc, and other nutrients, especially for composite and traditional dishes.

Evidence has shown that having a database on food composition that can be used by researchers and epidemiologists to carry out research in the area of diet and disease relationship contributes greatly to the reduction of the double burden of malnutrition. Food composition data also contributes to improvement in nutrition surveillance systems, which help to inform policy. Food composition data is important for various sectors, including health, trade and agriculture.

There is a need for review and update the estimates of food group intake in the Region to reflect new WHO/FAO food-based dietary guidelines. In addition, traditional foods are often not included in national food composition tables. WHO and FAO recognize the need for updating and compiling regional food composition data, reflecting global recommendations and evidence, and equipping experts in the Region with knowledge and skills on new standards of food composition tables.

Countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region require this review to help in developing, implementing and monitoring food and nutrition policies and assessing the nutritional status of their populations. The food composition data will be used for product development, food labelling and related regulatory measures for promoting healthy diet, as well as complying with national and international standards and regulations.

Statistics and figures

WHO has several nutrition-related global databases. They include data for countries in the Region. Please click on the links to access them.

Vitamin and Mineral Nutrition Information System

WHO Global Database on Body Mass Index

WHO Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition

WHO Global Data Bank on Infant and Young Child Feeding

Some nutrition-related data from the Regional Health Observatory:

Estimates of anaemia in non-pregnant women of reproductive age

Anaemia in preschool-age children

Trend estimates for under 5 child malnutrition: