British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Monitoring food and nutrient availability in a nationally representative sample of Bolivian households

F.J. Armando Pérez-Cuetoa1a2 c1, Androniki Naskaa3, Javier Monterreya4, Magaly Almanza-Lopeza5, Antonia Trichopouloua3 and Patrick Kolsterena1a2

a1 Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine Nutrition Unit, Nationalestraat 155, 2000 Antwerp Belgium

a2 University of Gent Laboratory of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Gent, Belgium

a3 University of Athens Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Mikras Asias 75, 11527 Athens Greece

a4 Bolivian National Institute of Statistics, La Paz Bolivia

a5 Asociación de Promoción, Investigación y Acción Social para el Desarrollo, Casilla 351, La Paz Bolivia


The study objective was to estimate food and nutrient availability in Bolivian households using data from the nationally representative under the Programme for the household surveys undertaken yearly from 1999 to 2002 Improvement of Surveys and the Measurement of Living Conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean (MECOVI). In the present study, we analysed data from four repeated, cross-sectional surveys and applied European Data Food Networking (DAFNE) methodology for post-harmonising the data. Raw data of 19 483 households in Bolivia (3035 in 1999, 4857 in 2000, 5845 in 2001 and 5746 in 2002) were retrieved from the databases of the national household surveys. Results showed that the Bolivian diet is characterised by higher availability of foods of plant origin (cereals, fruits, potatoes and vegetables). Meat, milk and their products follow in the dietary preferences of Bolivians. Disparities in food availability within the country were also observed. Rural households systematically recorded lower amounts of food available, in comparison with the urban ones. Households of higher social status recorded higher availability values for all food groups, except for potatoes and cereals. Findings suggest that Bolivian households of lower socio-economic status prefer energy-dense and cheaper food sources. We concluded the dietary and socio-demographic data collected in the MECOVI household surveys could serve nutrition surveillance purposes. In addition, the application of DAFNE methodology for post-harmonising the data allows both national and international comparisons.

(Received July 19 2005)

(Revised October 29 2005)

(Accepted November 01 2005)


c1 * Corresponding author: fax + 32 3 247 62 98, email


† Formerly responsible for the MECOVI Programme (1991–2005) at the Bolivian National Institute of Statistics, La Paz, Bolivia