Developing an online food composition database for an Indigenous population in south-western Uganda

Giulia Scarpa, Lea Berrang-Ford, Areej O Bawajeeh, Sabastian Twesigomwe, Paul Kakwangire, Remco Peters, Sarah Beer, Grace Williams, Carol Zavaleta-Cortijo, Didacus B Namanya, Shuaib Lwasa, Ester Nowembabazi, Charity Kesande, Holly Rippin, Janet E Cade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Objective: To develop an online food composition database of locally consumed foods among an Indigenous population in south-western Uganda. Design: Using a community-based approach and collaboration with local nutritionists, we collected a list of foods for inclusion in the database through focus group discussions, an individual dietary survey and markets and shops assessment. The food database was then created using seven steps: identification of foods for inclusion in the database; initial data cleaning and removal of duplicate items; linkage of foods to existing generic food composition tables; mapping and calculation of the nutrient content of recipes and foods; allocating portion sizes and accompanying foods; quality checks with local and international nutritionists; and translation into relevant local languages. Setting: Kanungu District, south-western Uganda. Participants: Seventy-four participants, 36 Indigenous Batwa and 38 Bakiga, were randomly selected and interviewed to inform the development of a food list prior the construction of the food database. Results: We developed an online food database for south-western Uganda including 148 commonly consumed foods complete with values for 120 micronutrients and macronutrients. This was for use with the online dietary assessment tool myfood24. Of the locally reported foods included, 56 % (n 82 items) of the items were already available in the myfood24 database, while 25 % (n 37 items) were found in existing Ugandan and Tanzanian food databases, 18 % (n 27 items) came from generated recipes and 1 % (n 2 items) from food packaging labels. Conclusion: Locally relevant food databases are sparse for African Indigenous communities. Here, we created a tool that can be used for assessing food intake and for tracking undernutrition among the communities living in Kanungu District. This will help to develop locally relevant food and nutrition policies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2455-2464
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements: We are very thankful to the Batwa and Bakiga communities who shared their recipes and local foods with us, making the creation of the south-western Ugandan online food database possible. This work is dedicated to Grace Asaasira, IHACC researcher, who conducted many studies for the Batwa communities with passion and competence. She passed away last year and we missed her a lot. Financial support: G.S. was financed by a scholarship from the Canadian Institute of Health Research. This is part of a larger project on Indigenous Health and Adaptation to Climate (IHACC) with field study sites in Uganda, Peru and Canada. Financial support for that project is provided by the International Development Research Centre, Tri-Council Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change, IHACC, IDRC. The funding sources had no role in the study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation of data. C.Z.-C. was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) (using the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) Funding) and Wellcome [218743/Z/19/Z] under the NIHR Wellcome Partnership for Global Health Research. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Wellcome, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. Conflict of interest: J.E.C. is Director of Dietary assessment Ltd, and S.B. and G.W. work in Dietary assessment Ltd. Authorship: G.S. prepared the first draft of the manuscript, coordinated the methodological design and conducted the data analysis. L.B. and J.C. provided input on the methodological design and data analysis. S.T. coordinated the fieldwork with P.K., E.N. and C.K and translated the data in Rukiga. All reviewers read, commented and approved the final manuscript. Ethics of human subject participation: This study was conducted according to the guidelines laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki and all procedures involving research study participants were approved by the University of Leeds Research Ethics Board (AREA 18-156), the Ugandan National Council for Science and Technology (SS5164), and the Makerere University Research Ethics Committee (MAKS REC 07.19.313/PR1). Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects.

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  • Food composition databases
  • Indigenous population
  • South-western Uganda
  • Nutritional assessment
  • Online food database


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