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close this book Food Composition Data: A User's Perspective (1987)
close this folder Other considerations
close this folder Dietary assessment methods used by the national health and nutrition examination surveys (NHANES)
View the document (introductory text)
View the document Introduction
View the document Design of NHANES II
View the document Major nutrition-related components of NHANES II
View the document Uses of dietary data
View the document Plans for future NHANES
View the document Conclusion

Uses of dietary data

Uses of dietary data

NHANES dietary data have been put to four types of uses: relating diet and demographic characteristics, relating diet and health characteristics, determining interactions of diet and nutritional status indicators, and tracking trends in diet and nutrient intakes over time.

In relating diet to the demographic characteristics of the population, the major question to be asked is: What are the food consumption patterns and nutrient intakes of subpopulations of the United States by such characteristics as age, race, sex, income, occupation, and education? The NHANES dietary data can answer questions such as: How do nutrient intakes and food consumption patterns of persons differ by level of education? What are the regional differences in consumption of certain food groups?

NHANES data have been used to relate the food consumption patterns and nutrient intakes of United States subpopulations to indicators of health status. Specific questions that have been addressed include: How do nutrient intakes compare with the Recommended Dietary Allowances and other dietary guidelines? What dietary patterns are associated with higher levels of tooth decay? What dietary and health variables are associated with iron-deficiency anaemia?

Examining interactions between nutrition-related variables, NHANES data can compare dietary intake, biochemical status, anthropometry, and presence or absence of health conditions. Questions that can be addressed by the data include: What are the relationships between dietary intake and biochemical status for persons who smoke, use vitamin/mineral supplements, or use oral contraceptives? Are those who take vitamins and other dietary supplements the ones who need them? Are subpopulations with high serum cholesterol and other evidence of cardiovascular disease consuming foods high in cholesterol and saturated fats?

Changes over time in food and nutrient intakes can be tracked and correlations made with health variables. Examples of questions that can be posed to the data include: What changes in obesity and diet have taken place in the last ten years? Are serum cholesterol values declining among men and women?