Niger Optifood Project

Dietary intake and nutrient gap assessment among pregnant and breast-feeding women considering the seasonal availability of foods and household resources in Zinder, Niger: An Optifood study

Dietary interview with a study participant
Dietary interview with a study participant

Adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation is important for the health of both the woman and the child. The time from conception to 2 years of age has been identified as a critical window often referred to as the first 1000 days. However, for many women in sub-Saharan Africa it is particularly challenging to meet their nutrient requirements during pregnancy and lactation due to increased physiological requirements and a lack of resources. 

The Niger Optifood study is an add-on study to the Niger Maternal Nutrition (NiMaNu) Project, which focuses on the nutritional and health status of pregnant women, and the optimization of antenatal care services. The primary objective of this Niger Optifood study is to assess the ability of pregnant and breast-feeding women to meet their macro- and micronutrient requirements from locally available foods, considering household resource constraints and seasonal variation in food availability.  Quantitative dietary intake data will be collected from pregnant and breastfeeding women using single 24-h dietary recalls, and data will be obtained from a qualitative food frequency questionnaires. These data will be used to describe the mean usual intake of dietary energy and selected macro- and micronutrients, as well as obtain information on median serving sizes and food patterns. Optifood, a software tool developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), will be used to conduct simulations to assess the nutrient gaps based on current consumption patterns of pregnant and breast-feeding women. The overall aim is to develop food-based recommendations for nutrition counselling that would allow breast-feeding women to meet their macro- and micronutrient requirements in consideration of the local availability of food and resources throughout the year. Alternative intervention strategies, including the provision of multiple micronutrient supplements, lipid-based nutrient supplements and fortified foods will also be explored to help women meet their nutritional requirements.  The results will help guide the Ministry of Health and non-governmental organizations in Niger in developing realistic dietary counseling messages and/or product-based nutritional interventions to improve nutritional status among pregnant and breast-feeding women.

PICN research team


Funding agency


  • Zinder, Niger


  • Wessells KR, Young RR, Ferguson EL, Ouédraogo CT, Faye MT, Hess SY. Assessment of dietary intake and nutrient gaps, and development of food-based recommendations, among pregnant women in Zinder, Niger: An Optifood linear programming analysis. Nutrients, 2019, 11: 72; doi:10.3390/nu11010072.