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National Nutrition Monitoring 

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: Human Nutrition Research Priorities
: David Klurfeld506 31 Aug 2012
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These programs form the foundation of all nutritional epidemiology in the U.S. and provide snapshots of the nutritional health of the nation and its food supply. We will expand and improve the National Nutrient Databank which provides food composition data. We will determine food consumption and dietary patterns of Americans as part of the What We Eat in America survey, the diet component the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), done in partnership with CDC.

1) Gilbert Leveille8 (03 Sep 2012)
Nutruition monitoring is incredibly important. The results provide a basis for tracking the progress being made on the adequacy of diets. The results become a very critical research tool for investigators and food manufacturers.
2) Maureen Storey4 (06 Sep 2012)
Agree. NNM, including the nutrient database, is the cornerstone upon which nutrition research rests. Needs high priority.
3) James McClung8 (10 Sep 2012)
The importance of nutrition status monitoring for the US population cannot be understated. Similarly, the What we Eat in America survey is a critical component of this program.
4) Linda Meyers9 (17 Sep 2012)
National Nutriton Monitoring is far more important than the name suggests--it is fundamental of the work by the public health and nutritional sciences communities. It is such a national resource that I think at times we begin to take it for granted--and we can't.
5) Michael Falk9 (20 Sep 2012)
NNM is critical to evaluating the safety of the food supply as well as providing a basis for nutritional public policy.
6) Elizabeth Pivonka26 (20 Sep 2012)
NNM is high priority. Regular updates to the nutrient database are critical as well given ongoing changes to cultivars. Would like to see more phytochemicals in database as well.
7) Barbara Schneeman12 (21 Sep 2012)
this is an essential program and supports activity across government agencies as well as the research community.
8) Johanna Dwyer40 (24 Sep 2012)
Extremely important priority. If USDA does not do this food and nutrition policy will be based on politics not evidence.
9) Jordi Serratosa17 (02 Oct 2012)
We are not talking about a high priority but as a "must". No serious scientific based policy can be taken if the NNM is not correctly updated. Funding should be found across government agencies in order to give the right relevance to that program.
10) Jean Buzby9 (04 Oct 2012)
National nutrition monitoring is critically important because it provides the sceintific data on which to base food and nutrition policymaking.
11) Connye Kuratko16 (10 Oct 2012)
Nutrition monitoring through NHANES should continue to be a top priority for both the USDA and the CDC. The data it provides are important for government, academia, and industry. It sets the example for collection of nutrition information worldwide. Regarding future funding, the USDA should set more extensive analysis of the survey data as a goal. USDA could accomplish this through internal research programs, and/or through external collaborations and financial encouragement. The recent “2nd National Report on Biochemical Indicators of Diet and Nutrition in the U.S. Population” exemplifies important information for nutrition research that could be enhanced, and made more usable, with more detailed sub-analysis and reporting (i.e. reporting means for additional age-ranges, or life-stages; reporting intakes by quintiles rather than tertiles; reporting by socio-economic variables, etc.). Inclusion of survey questions which assess the use of dietary supplements and nutrient-fortified foods are needed to accurately reflect intakes in the US population.
The continuous updating and expansion of the Nutrient Database as needed to best reflect the US food supply should also be fully supported.
12) WenYen Juan7 (11 Oct 2012)
National nutrition monitoring is the foundation for setting the national priorities of policies and research, along with a comprehensive food composition database, which is the “heart” to support this activity.
13) Kevin Miller12 (11 Oct 2012)
The nutrient databases and NHANES are excellent tools for data mining and establishing associations. However, the way that we eat (i.e., eating occasions) has changed over time and the science has failed to keep up. It's not only about intake, but where and how (e.g., on-the-go versus family meals, etc).
The lack of accepted scientific definitions for meal occasions, especially "snacking“ and "breakfast", but also the poor understanding of location and context complicate research into these complex associations. Greater insights may be helpful in guiding nutrition policy and public health.
14) Sarah Ohlhorst14 (15 Oct 2012)
The American Society for Nutrition supports national nutrition monitoring as a human nutrition priority. ASN has categorized food and nutrient databases as essential tools to advance nutrition research, as well as nutrition-related policy. Nutrition data must be incorporated into databases related to novel research areas, such as nutrigenomics and the microbiome, to adequately link these areas with nutrition. Enhancements for data collection should be explored, such as photographic food intake documentation; direct upload of food composition and sensory characteristics from food manufacturers; and biological sample collection.
15) Marge Leahy19 (15 Oct 2012)
Extremely important priority to support advancement of evidence-based science in understanding how and what Americans eat. NND and NHANES both key elements. Ongoing funding support is critical.
16) Christian Peters8 (15 Oct 2012)
I agree with others that these data are essential.

One question that may be valuable to address is, "How do we reconcile the differences between reported food intake and estimated food supply?" Clearly losses and waste account for some of the differences between intake and supply, but they do not account for all of it. A better understanding of how these two data sources inter-relate might help scientists, practitioners, and policy makers to judge how much food people actually eat. Of course, this question is of secondary importance to the continued collection of nutrition monitoring data.
17) Sarah Levy12 (15 Oct 2012)
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) agrees this topic is an important research priority. The efficacy of a number of national nutrition policies is judged based on nutrient intake levels reported in USDA nutrition monitoring systems. Unless these systems reflect accurate and real-time changes in the packaged food and beverage supply, actual progress against public health goals cannot be measured. Between 2002 and 2009, GMA member companies developed and introduced 20,000 healthier product choices to the marketplace. Of these nutritional improvements, 32% were applied to new products, and 68% were applied to reformulated products.

Because much of the current product data in the Standard Reference Database is outdated, the datasets do not accurately reflect these product improvement efforts by the food and beverage industry. Furthermore, only a fraction of the total products in the marketplace are represented. For example, SR 24 currently has data for only 7,900 of the over 600,000 UPCs that exist in today’s marketplace. In addition, the databases often include only a fraction of an individual company’s product portfolio.

It is imperative that USDA nutrient databases reflect this rapid pace of product reformulation and innovation. A high priority should be placed on expanding and improving current methods of data collection and evaluation. Affording companies some flexibility in data reporting requirements may encourage additional participation by the packaged food industry. This represents an excellent opportunity for an industry-government partnership. An effort to jointly develop a methodology and process that can be realistically implemented can encourage the packaged food industry to more actively participate in providing USDA with real time, branded nutritional information, ultimately improving the timeliness and completeness of data required to inform nutrition guidance.

Furthermore, expanded methods are needed to adequately monitor the nutritional status of population sub-groups including infants, young children, pre/post partum women, the elderly, those with chronic disease, and minority populations. An important consideration for all nutrition monitoring strategies is evaluation; more surveys should be structured to evaluate what strategies are most effective in influencing behavior change, rather than simply providing descriptive nutrition and health data.
18) Shalene McNeill15 (15 Oct 2012)
Continuous updates of nutrient composition databases to reflect current nutrient profiles of foods based on today's agricultural and food production systems remains an important role for USDA research.