| Food Composition Data: A User's Perspective (1987) |
|The uses of food composition data|
|NCI food data needs: impact on coding systems|
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) supports many different types of research on the relationship between nutrition and cancer, including studies in prevention, epidemiology, etiology, basic cellular mechanisms, treatment, and information dissemination. As a result of conducting this research, major deficiencies in existing food data bases have become apparent. Problems range from the unavailability of food data to questionable data validity, reliability, accessibility, and interpretation.
Food data problems are especially evident in epidemiologic studies, which focus on populations' dietary differences and their relationships to cancer incidence. International variations in diet can be distinguished by broad nutrient-food categories, but detailed information is lacking on the nutrient content of many foodstuffs consumed by different peoples and their subgroups. In addition, comprehensive data are unavailable for the non-nutrient chemical components of food, which represent protection for, or risks to, good health.
Thus, creating a comprehensive food composition data network as proposed by INFOODS, covering the spectrum of biologic activity from nutrients to contaminants, would greatly aid cancer epidemiologists, researchers, clinicians, educators, and public policy-makers. The purpose of this paper is to highlight selected NCI-supported projects which would benefit from the development of such a system. Table 1 presents users of food composition data at the international, national, local, and individual levels. The objectives of each of these researchers' projects is then discussed with their needs relative to the development of an internationally acceptable coding system.