Cover Image
close this book Food Composition Data: A User's Perspective (1987)
close this folder The uses of food composition data
close this folder Using food composition data to communicate nutrition to the consumer
View the document (introductory text)
View the document Introduction
View the document NUTREDFO system development
View the document Nutrient and food constituent data sources
View the document Food composition data characteristics and limitations
View the document Interrelationships of nutrition education and food composition data
View the document Using NUTREDFO for nutrition guidance research
View the document Comments on selected nutrients in NUTREDFO
View the document Recommendations
View the document Acknowledgements
View the document References



The relationship of diet and health is a foremost concern of the public. Consumers want to know what to eat to assure nutritional adequacy, health, and well-being. Nutritionists are continually re-evaluating information on food composition, nutrient requirements, food practices, and the relationships between diet, health, and disease as a basis for developing educational programmes for the public.

All of this information (human nutrient requirements, food consumption practices, diet, health, and disease relationships, as well as nutritional guidance) must be underpinned by quality food consumption data. The amount and specificity of nutrient information communicated varies with different audiences, their level of sophistication and whether we are targeting the general population, groups at risk, or specific groups of interest such as students, hospitalized patients, athletes, or individuals. However, the data needed by professionals to support food guidance research and development are fairly specific.

For foods that comprise the majority of calories consumed by the population, extensive nutrient composition data are necessary. It is no longer adequate to have data concerning only the traditional nutrients, i.e. water, kilocalories, protein, total fat, carbohydrate, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and ascorbic acid. Increasingly, the food industry, educators, and consumers need information for such nutrients as magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, pantothenic acid, total vitamin B6, folacin, and vitamin B12, as well as for specific fatty acids, cholesterol, specific amino acids, carotenoids, and dietary fibre. Many of these components represent emerging interests, and for this reason the demand for reliable data exceeds availability.

Recognizing the potential of computer technology to help meet these data needs, as well as the analytical needs of nutrition educators, Utah State University and the Human Nutrition Information Center, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed NUTREDFO, the Nutrition Education Information System [34], designed for use by professionals as a tool for nutrition guidance research and development of nutrition guidance information.