Open Access The Adult Male Equivalent concept and its application to Household Consumption and Expenditures Surveys (HCES)

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Background. Knowledge of the amount and quality of food consumed by a population is essential in determining the adequacy of the food availability and supply. Since its founding, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has developed methods for determining food availability and consumption that may be useful to other investigators.

Objective. Based on FAO's 60 years of experience in conducting Household Consumption and Expenditures Surveys (HCES), to explain and demonstrate the advantages and use of the Adult Male Equivalent (AME) and Equivalent Nutrition Unit (ENU) concepts.

Methods. The important factors related to the AME and ENU, such as energy requirements, size and composition of the food consumer unit, and attendance at meals, are explained through the examples of two hypothetical families: a family consisting of a father, a mother, a 12-year old daughter, and a 3-year old son plus an adult guest; and a family consisting of a single mother, a 10-year old son, and two daughters, 6 and 4 years of age. The reader is guided through the steps in calculating the AME and ENU.

Results. The various scenarios of the composition, size, and attendance at meals of the consumer unit show that the calculated food energy adequacy can range from +2% to –29%.

Conclusions. Care and attention must be given to correctly attributing the consumers of the food intake measured or estimated. In addition, use of these concepts allows for a valid comparison of food consumption units of various sizes and compositions.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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