On any given day, your food should add up to this: 55–75% of your daily calories should be made up of carbohydrates, 10–15% should come from protein, and 15–30% from fats, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Even though many countries in sub-Saharan Africa achieve this (on average, their food is made up of 66% carbohydrates, 11% protein, 23% fats), according to the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), ‘some countries are unable to even meet these guidelines’. Also, figures like this that try to show an average national diet are only superficially useful since the daily calorie intake of a poor, malnourished community ‘is almost certainly worse than this’.
GAIN emphasises the need to understand diet composition in a country. So it is not just about getting a simple breakdown of the percentages of food types, but one needs to know the quality of foods that make up those percentages.
By Leonie Joubert