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close this book Food Composition Data: A User's Perspective (1987)
close this folder Managing food composition data
close this folder Maintaining a food composition data base for multiple research studies: the NCC food table
View the document (introductory text)
View the document Introduction
View the document Specific user needs and approaches to these needs
View the document Minimizing redundancy in the nutrient data base
View the document Summary
View the document References



A food composition data base was developed at the Nutrition Co-ordination Center (NCC), University of Minnesota, in 1974 for use in analysing dietary data for two long-term multi-centred cardiovascular studies, the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT) and the Lipid Research Clinics (LRC) Programs [2-4]. Standardized methods for the collection and analysis of dietary data and centralized processing of the data were implemented to minimize inter-clinic differences among the 34 centres involved and to allow comparability of dietary data between the two collaborative research programmes supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

The original nutrient data base and coding system were designed to allow detailed specification of both the quality and quantity of dietary fat. Margarines, oils, and shortenings were classified by type and brand, and fats used in recipes and food preparation were documented in detail, as described by Dennis et al. [1]. Within food groups, food items with similar fat content were grouped together. The original data base included approximately 1,200 entries with values for 31 nutrients.

In 1977 the NCC nutrient data base coding system became available for other research studies, and the system has been used by numerous investigators over the past eight years. The majority of users are medical researchers in the United States and Canada involved in the investigation of relationships between diet and disease. The data base has been expanded to meet the research needs of each study. The current NCC nutrient data base (referred to here as the NCC Food Table) includes approximately 1,800 entries and values for 61 food components.

The purpose of this paper is to describe the needs of the users of the NCC Food Table and to discuss the NCC approaches to maintaining the table to meet these needs. NCC guidelines for minimizing redundancy, without loss of the specificity required by the users of the system, are also described.