Current Nationwide Food Surveys conducted by USDA's Agricultural Research Service encompass two types of surveys: Surveys of foods eaten by individuals both at home and away from home and surveys of attitudes and knowledge about healthy eating, about diet and health relationships, and about dietary guidance. A third type of survey which measured food used by houeholds and the costs of those foods has been discontinued although results are still used. Results from these three types of surveys are used for a variety of purposes.
Assessment of Dietary Intakes
- Provide detailed benchmark data on food and nutrient intakes of the population.
- Monitor the nutritional quality of diets and determine the size and nature of populations at risk of having diets low in certain nutrients.
- Identify socioeconomic and attitudinal factors associated with diets.
- Identify changes in food and nutrient consumption that would reduce health risks.
Economics of Food Consumption
- Predict demand for agricultural products and marketing facilities.
- Determine the effects of socioeconomic factors on the demand for food.
- Determine the demand for food away from home and its effects on the nutritional quality of diets.
Food Policy, Programs, and Guidance
- Determine appropriate levels of enrichment or fortification based in part on food use.
- Track use of food labels and their effect on dietary intakes.
- Monitor food security, hunger, and diet quality.
- Identify populations that might benefit from intervention programs.
- Determine the amounts of foods that are suitable to offer in food distribution programs.
- Identify factors affecting participation in some food programs and estimate the effect of participation on diet quality.
- Estimate the effect of food programs on demand for food.
- Develop food plans that reflect food consumption practices and meet nutritional and cost criteria.
- Develop food guides and dietary guidance materials that target nutritional problems in the U.S. population.
- Identify educational strategies to increase the knowledge of nutrition and to improve the eating habits of Americans.
- Estimate exposure to pesticide residues, food additives, contaminants, and naturally occurring toxic substances.
- Predict food items in which a food additive can safely be permitted in specified amounts.
- Determine the need to modify regulations in response to changes in consumption.
- Correlate food consumption and dietary status with incidence of disease over time.
- Follow food consumption through the life cycle.
- Predict changes in food consumption and dietary status as they may be influenced by economic, technological, and other developments.