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15 Oct 2012Jonathan Mein9
Importance of Human Nutrition in Agricultural Production

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans continues to highlight increased consumption of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. However, nearly three-quarters of Americans do not meet the recommended intake levels for fruits and vegetables. Consumer research clearly indicates taste, flavor, appearance, convenience, and nutrition as the top drivers of fruit and vegetable consumption. The variation in taste, flavor, and nutrition components are driven by both genetic and environmental factors. Agricultural production has to date focused on agronomic aspects, such as yield and disease resistance, with little emphasis on quality traits, an often neglected aspect of plant breeding. Agricultural production is shifting dramatically from open field to protected environment as well from northern US to Mexico and Latin America. These shifts warrant systematic measurement and understanding of flavor components, nutrients, and phytonutrients. Placing emphasis on this type of research and data is critical for establishing a proper baseline for flavor and nutrients, leading to the development of varieties with consistent and better flavor and nutrition and ultimately increased consumption.
15 Oct 2012Shalene McNeill15
National Nutrition Monitoring

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.
15 Oct 2012Shalene McNeill15
Importance of Human Nutrition in Agricultural Production

Through a combination of breeding, feeding and retail trimming practices, the total fat content of conventionally fed red meats has declined dramatically over the last 3 decades. Furthermore, the majority of fatty acids in red meats are a combination of monounsaturated and neutral saturated fat (stearic acid). Human nutrition research is needed to assess the impact of current levels and types (leaner) of red meat intake when consumed as part of a recommended dietary pattern on selected health outcomes (ex CVD, Met Syndrome) to determine if nutrient modifications of livestock (especially beef and pork) are warranted.
15 Oct 2012Shalene McNeill15
Aging, sarcopenia, and protein intake

Agree with this post on sarcopenia, particularly given the size of the aging population and the impact of gradual loss of muscle associated with aging on health. Both amount (i.e. intakes within the full spectrum of the AMDR range)as well as source (plant and animal, striated and non-striated)should be considered.
15 Oct 2012Shalene McNeill15
Scientific Basis for Dietary Guidance:implementation and Adherence

Understanding adherence to a healthy diet is important. There is a need to examine types of healthy dietary patterns that meet DGA and that are more likely to be followed by Americans based on their current eating behaviors.
15 Oct 2012Sarah Levy12
Scientific Basis for Dietary Guidance

Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) comment: Nutrition science is constantly evolving. Frequent reevaluations of available science, and the inclusion of rigorous evaluation strategies, are necessary to ensure that U.S. dietary guidance is evidence-based. Dietary guidance should be applicable to the diverse U.S. population, including sub-groups such as Hispanics, African Americans, individuals living under lower socioeconomic conditions, prenatal women, infants/young children, and the elderly.

The scientific basis for dietary guidance must focus on food intake strategies with the greatest potential benefits to public health. To this end, research focused on individual nutrients and/or food components may not provide the greatest return on investment. While research on certain individual nutrients can increase general understanding of a nutrient’s function/mechanism and dietary benefits, often these strategies discount the relative contributions of multiple nutrients and food components in supporting overall health, as well as limit the creation of actionable guidance for consumers. Consumer research that shows how consumers actually implement the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommendations is needed.

The 2010 DGA includes recommendations for both nutrients/food groups to increase in the diet as well as nutrients/food groups to decrease. Additional research is needed to define each of these categories, particularly in the case of nutrients to limit. For example, the sodium recommendation made by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) was severe and only considered blood pressure as an endpoint, despite some research studies (now supported by a larger body of evidence) suggesting that unduly restricted sodium intakes may lead to unintended health-related consequences (e.g. increased mortality) in population sub-groups. Furthermore, it is important to consider how recommendations designed to address concerns about individual nutrients may negatively impact overall recommendations for building healthy, balanced diets. Diet modeling data show that achieving low sodium intakes likely requires the displacement of other important nutrients, including potassium, a nutrient to increase according to the 2010 DGA. The entire scope of available evidence must be considered when making dietary guidance recommendations so that these unintended consequences are avoided.

USDA should leverage its own research expertise to identify research gaps and to execute research that addresses the recurring knowledge voids identified by the DGAC and adds to the evidence base that is important for dietary guidance. While USDA currently provides support with nutrient/food group intake analyses and evidence based analysis, its researchers are also positioned to provide more input upfront to help guide the DGA and deliver research findings that address major public health issues.

In addition, the evaluation of dietary guidance programs and recommendations is critical. Understanding the impact (or lack thereof) dietary guidance recommendations have on overall public health outcomes is necessary to inform future strategies and initiatives. Research that identifies the most effective strategies by which to evaluate these programs would be informative, and would also help to conserve valuable resources by all stakeholders in the future.
15 Oct 2012Sarah Levy12
Prevention of Obesity and Related Diseases

Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) comment: Obesity is a multifactorial condition, and available data suggest that effectively reducing current rates of overweight and obesity, and preventing future incidence of chronic disease requires a comprehensive approach. This approach includes increased consumer understanding and adoption of recommended amounts of physical activity and total caloric intake (energy balance), along with a total diet approach to eating that promotes healthy consumer choices, behaviors, and lifestyles. Previous efforts focusing solely on reducing or replacing a particular nutrient or ingredient in the diet have been unsuccessful in achieving these broader health outcomes, as this narrow focus is unlikely to provide the comprehensive strategies needed to reduce obesity. Clearly, additional research is required to identify interventions that will produce the desired improvement in public health.

Ultimately, environmental changes and improvements made by the food industry and public health sectors are dependent on consumer action for their success in decreasing rates of obesity and chronic disease. Therefore, additional research is needed to identify effective behavior change motivation and consumer communication strategies. In addition, research to better understand the nutritional etiology (including behavioral and biologic causes) of obesity and related chronic diseases is needed for the development of a public health framework that will help prevent and treat these diseases.
15 Oct 2012Sarah Levy12
Life Stage Nutrition and Metabolism

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) encourages ARS to leverage the research and data being produced and driven by the NIH in this area. Nutritional programming is an important and emerging area of nutrition science. Further research is needed to better define how prenatal nutrition and early infant feeding (including all methods of feeding, i.e. breastfeeding, supplemental feeding, infant formula feeding, and the feeding of complimentary foods) help shape the trajectory for growth and utilization of calories as well as help define the range of calories needed. Equally important is a better definition of the unique nutrient requirements for infants and young children, as well as the role of specific nutrients in maintaining the functionality and cognition of the elderly. Moreover, older sectors of the population have unique needs including both specific nutrients and sources for adequate hydration. It also is important to investigate the beneficial effects of nonessential nutrients in maintaining optimal health, well-being and quality of life for individuals of all ages.

In addition, research is needed to better assess protein needs for weight management or for maximizing body composition throughout the lifecycle. Current protein recommendations are based on the minimum requirement to prevent protein deficiency via nitrogen balance studies; however, in light of current obesity rates, it is important to evaluate the optimal macronutrient composition of the diet to help individuals maintain or lose weight while maintaining lean mass.
15 Oct 2012Sarah Levy12
National Nutrition Monitoring

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.
15 Oct 2012Christian Peters8
Importance of Human Nutrition in Agricultural Production

A significant portion of USDA's intramural and extramural funding focuses, quite correctly, on production agriculture. However, given the epidemic of obesity and other diet-related chronic diseases, it is necessary to determine how human health concerns should impact agricultural production.

To this end, I support the comments made by Drs. Schneeman and Dwyer regarding the need to understand the barriers to consuming a more healthful diet. In addition, I think it is important to better understand how dietary changes influence agricultural production systems and vice versa. As a single example, consider the fate of higher-fat cuts of meat as U.S consumers shift to leaner cuts. Is this a solid waste issue? Does it transfer the health problems of high-fat consumption from one population to another? Is it a livestock production problem (i.e. raise leaner animals)? Viewing agriculture and nutrition together brings such issues to the surface.
15 Oct 2012Christian Peters8
National Nutrition Monitoring

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.
15 Oct 2012Janice Rueda12
Prevention of Obesity and Related Diseases

Pulse crops (dry beans, dry peas, lentils and chickpeas) are cost-effective, rich sources of many USDA-identified nutrients of concern, including fiber, iron, potassium and magnesium, yet research on their efficacy in reducing obesity (through satiety or other mechanisms) and ameliorating risk of chronic diseases is scant. As many other posters have noted, nutrition research influences the extent to which foods are utilized and consumed, and increased nutrition research on pulse crops holds the potential to fill critical research gaps that could affect consumer food choices and positively impact the quality of the American diet.
15 Oct 2012Janice Rueda12
Importance of Human Nutrition in Agricultural Production

The role of crops with inherent nitrogen-fixing capacity in rotational crop systems should be better understood and quantified as to the effects on increasing yield and potentially decreasing the environmental burden of staple crop production.
15 Oct 2012Marge Leahy19
Scientific Basis for Dietary Guidance

Evidence-based science needs to be the underpinning for all dietary guidance.
15 Oct 2012Marge Leahy19
National Nutrition Monitoring

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.
15 Oct 2012Sarah Ohlhorst14
Prevention of Obesity and Related Diseases

Research is also needed to examine the use of a systems approach to achieve energy balance including and integrating environmental, biological, psycho-social, and food system factors.
15 Oct 2012Sarah Ohlhorst14
Scientific Basis for Dietary Guidance

A very important topic. Research is needed to better understand the ranges of Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) that support health maintenance in all population subgroups. Research is also need to help us better understand and minimize unfavorable impacts of elevated nutrient intake on health.

Research is also needed to show if, and how, dietary guidance drives behavior.
15 Oct 2012Sarah Ohlhorst14
Prevention of Obesity and Related Diseases

ARS is positioned to promote research that will clarify how the current farm-to-fork food system influences dietary patterns and behaviors, and how the food chain/system can be altered to best promote healthy behaviors and improve public health.

Research plays a crucial role in determining how industry, agriculture, government, and other stakeholders can best promote improved food security and nutrition. The use of public/private partnerships can move nutrition research forward and allow us to better understand how all stakeholders can work together to make meaningful changes to the American diet.
15 Oct 2012Sarah Ohlhorst14
National Nutrition Monitoring

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.
14 Oct 2012Kelly Olson9
Importance of Human Nutrition in Agricultural Production

More research is needed on ways to more effectively promote My Plate dietary recommendations to different age and socioeconomic groups. Current low acceptance rates is a significant impediment to reducing obesity and other chronic health problems.