Calorie Intake and Distribution: Estimates from the Consumption Side

Peter Svedberg

in Poverty and Undernutrition

Published in print October 2000 | ISBN: 9780198292685
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596957 | DOI:

Series: WIDER Studies in Development Economics

 Calorie Intake and Distribution: Estimates from the Consumption Side

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Given the importance of national per‐capita calorie availability in the FAO estimations of undernutrition, this chapter takes a second look at this parameter; now from the consumption side. Estimates of per‐capita calorie consumption from various food and expenditure surveys in several countries are compared with corresponding supply‐side estimates derived by the FAO, and huge mismatches are found. The main methodological flaws in most food consumption surveys from developing countries are identified and the conclusion is that these surveys are, with notably few exceptions, as unreliable as the FAO's food balance sheet estimates. It is also found that the estimates of the distribution of available calories across households, one of the three key parameters in the FAO model, are highly unreliable and in no single case, nationally representative. The evidence on peoples’ actual calorie expenditures by the only reliable method there—the Doubly Labelled Water Method—is unfortunately far too scant to permit any generalizations whatsoever.

Keywords: calorie consumption; calorie expenditure; Doubly Labelled Water Method; expenditure surveys; FAO

Chapter.  7469 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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