The last 15 years have been a period of unparalleled interest in the
relationship of diet to health. The dietary component of NHANES together with
the clinical and biochemical assessment form a unique data set on a nationally
representative sample of people. NHANES data have been used to monitor changes
in health, nutritional status, and dietary intake over time. Interrelationships
among dietary and health variables in the general population have been studied.
NHANES III will continue to build on this information foundation.
A problem in planning the dietary component for NHANES III is that
conflicting demands are being made. Regulatory agencies and researchers want
more detail about the food people eat, how it is packaged and prepared, and what
nutrients, additives, and toxic substances it contains. Demands for more rapid
publication of data would lead us to simpler interviews with less detail about
the foods consumed.
While this dilemma probably cannot be resolved immediately, we would like to
hear discussion of the pros and cons of shortened, simplified interviews and
data bases for use with NHANES. We would also like to hear recommendations on
how to make our national surveys more compatible while extending their
usefulness to policy makers and