In order to overcome evident lack of comparable and harmonized food composition and dietary intake data in the Balkan region, application of internationally accepted, validated indicators and standardized methods is warranted. CAPNUTRA efforts in the harmonization of food and nutrition research in CEE/BC were focused on the development of research infrastructures and the resources which promote greater collaboration, research reliability and data comparability. Diet Assess & Plan (DAP) software is being implemented in EFSA-supported national dietary surveys in the Balkans, in compliance with the EU Menu methodology, one targeting adults (10–74 year-old) over the period 2017–2021 (in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro) and one targeting children up 9 years of age, over the period 2017–2021 in Serbia and North Macedonia, and over the period 2018–2023 in Montenegro. The aim of simultaneous implementation of DAP software in national dietary studies conducted under the umbrella of the EU Menu project in Balkan countries is to enable synchronized and coordinated activities on food data compilation in this region.
DAP is an advanced nutritional tool that allows extensive diet evaluation and planning based on dietary intake assessment and nutrient recommendations. The complex structure of the DAP comprises electronic versions of standard food consumption questionnaires, Food Composition Data Base Management (FCDM) web application, Serbian FCDB and Balkan food platform with Regional FCDB. Due to unique software architecture DAP is compatible with all national FCDBs hosted on EuroFIR platform. Furthermore, by integrating the EuroFIR thesaurus, LanguaL and EFSA FoodEX2 coding systems DAP platform enables flexibility in data utilization and facilitates food matching process, international data comparability and information exchange. Within the EU Menu project, data collection is performed according to EFSA’s precisely defined methodological approach. National compiler organizations participating in the Balkan network of DAP users are working on country-specific files and regional FCDB while maintaining a high level of standardization. DAP software structure fulfills the criteria for standardized food consumption data collection within EFSA’s pan-European dietary monitoring and risk assessment projects.
Being a core element of public health nutrition research infrastructure in the Balkans, DAP promotes regional collaboration and harmonization of compilation and dissemination of reliable food data. Within the FNS project, data generated within these projects will contribute the overall aim i.e. to overcome fragmentation problems by integrating existing data, which is essential for high-end, pan- European FNS research, addressing diet, health, and consumer behaviors.