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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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ARS Annual Performance Report for FY 2005
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1 - Introduction
2 - Table of Contents
3 - Goals 1 and 2
4 - Goal 3
5 - Goal 4
6 - Goal 5
7 - Goal 6
Goal 4



Analysis of Results:  This goal is the focus of ARS’ research related to human nutrition and health.  Under Goal 4, 6 Indicators (in Italics) are aligned under 3 Performance Measures.  As the National Programs evolve, the Agency will report more accomplishments achieved by collaborative research at multiple locations involving more than one scientific discipline.  Thus, we anticipate reporting fewer accomplishments, but accomplishments that are broader in scope that make greater contributions to American agriculture.  While it is not possible to report research accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in these Indicators was completed or substantially completed during FY 2005.  Seventeen significant accomplishments are reported below.


OBJECTIVE 4.1:  Promote Healthier Individual Food Choices and Lifestyles and Prevent Obesity; Improve Human Health by Better Understanding the Nutrient Requirements of Individuals and the Nutritional Value of Foods; Determine Food Consumption Patterns of Americans.


Performance Measure 4.1.1:  Scientifically assess the efficacy of enhancements to the nutritional value of our food supply and identify, conduct, and support intramural and extramural research to develop, test, and evaluate effective clinical and community dietary intervention strategies and programs for modifying diet, eating behavior, and food choices to improve the nutritional status of targeted populations.  A special emphasis is to prevent obesity and promote healthy dietary behaviors.




During FY 2005, ARS will


identify dietary and lifestyle intervention strategies to prevent obesity and promote healthy food choices and eating behaviors.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS discovered that common mutations of a gene called “perilipin” modulate body weight in humans -- and more so in women.  This genetic predisposition to obesity has been demonstrated in white Americans randomly selected from the general population as well as in Indians and Malays residing in Singapore.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Identifying people with a predisposition to obesity will help in tailoring appropriate strategies for obesity prevention.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS found that low fruit and vegetable consumption and high sweetened beverage intake are independently associated with the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in young adults who participated in the Bogalusa Heart Study.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by abdominal obesity, hypertension and the inability to use insulin efficiently, is considered a precursor to type II diabetes that predisposes individuals to heart disease.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS found that short-term consumption of a diet containing whole grains in contrast to one with refined cereals and grains produced in women a blood lipoprotein profile associated with a lower risk for heart disease.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  If substantiated by a long-term feeding trial, this kind of diet, which is consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, could provide an important food-based strategy for reducing cardiovascular risk.


conduct research that enhances the nutritive value of the food supply.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS reported that consumption of barley rich in soluble fiber results in similar cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin-lowering effects in people as when oats are eaten.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The FDA approved an unqualified health claim for barley, that its consumption as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS found that cooking elevates absorption of some, but not all, of the red-purple pigments that function as antioxidants in specialty carrots and that the body is limited in its ability to absorb these healthful compounds.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These findings will help consumers and health professionals plan healthful diets to reduce the risk of chronic disease and avoid unneeded supplementation.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS demonstrated that inulin, a type of dietary fiber, enhances the absorption of iron from the intestine when fed to young pigs.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Inulin, already added to some brands of yogurt to increase absorption of calcium, may now be added to other food products fortified with iron, such as enriched bread or cereals, to enhance iron absorption.  Iron deficiency is the most prevalent nutritional problem world-wide, principally affecting children and women of child-bearing age.


Performance Measure 4.1.2:  Define functions, bioavailability, interactions, and human requirements (including effects such as genetic, health status, and environmental factors) for known, emerging, and new classes of nutrients.  Determine the abundance of known, emerging, and new classes of nutrients in the food supply and provide that information in databases.




During FY 2005, ARS will


determine the functions, bioavailability, interactions, and requirements for known, emerging, and new classes of nutrients across the lifecycle.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS demonstrated that calcium and vitamin D supplementation, in frequently recommended amounts, lowers the risk of falls and resulting fractures for the elderly population.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Broad-based increases in consumption of vitamin D and calcium could help lower health care costs as well as improve the quality of life for older Americans.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS found that men and women with higher dietary and blood levels of vitamin K have fewer osteoarthritic joints and less abnormal calcification in their joints compared to people with lower dietary and blood levels. 


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Ensuring adequate vitamin K intake may potentially reduce this age related form of arthritis in older men and women.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS reported that rats fed marginally deficient levels of copper for a long time developed cardiovascular damage similar to that seen in animals fed severely deficient diets for a short period.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Not meeting dietary recommendations for copper by relatively small amounts for long periods of time may be more harmful than previously believed.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS showed that a higher intake of total fat appears to increase cataract risk but more frequent consumption of long chain omega-3 fatty acids and fish can reduce the risk.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Dietary prevention of commonly occurring health concerns is a cost effective and essential way of reducing health care costs in the United States.


develop new methods, conduct food composition analyses, and compile databases for known, emerging, and new classes of nutrients across the lifecycle.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS released National Nutrient Databank for Standard Reference, Release 18.    Information on up to 136 nutrients in over 7,100 food items is included.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This is the “gold standard” of nutrient composition databases for foods consumed in the United States.  It is widely used by USDA’s Research, Education and Economics, and Food and Nutrition Service agencies for research, evaluating food assistance programs, and policy formulation.  It is also used and by many other Federal agencies, such as for FDA’s food labeling and EPA’s pesticide monitoring programs.


ACCOMPLISHMENT:  ARS released the “What’s in the Foods You Eat Search Tool” on the ARS World Wide Web site.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  In contrast to other nutrient databases, this one contains nutritional information for foods most frequently eaten by Americans, as reported in the “What We Eat in America NHANES” survey.  Such information aids the consumer in making healthful food choices.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS developed a method for determining of the vitamin nicotinic acid and nicotinamide (the form used to fortify food) in wheat flour and cereal products.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Academia, government, and the food industry will use this new methodology for measuring the niacin content of foods and dietary supplements.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  The USDA Beef Calculator was released. This software program enables users to select among multiple types of ground beef and cooking methods for a report on nutrients per serving of ground beef.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This calculator, while useful to consumers, also provides the beef industry with a means to calculate ground beef nutrient values, a requirement of the proposed Food Safety and Inspection Service labeling regulation on single-ingredient meat products.


Performance Measure 4.1.3:  Determine food consumption patterns of Americans, including those of different ages, ethnicity, regions, and income levels.  Provide sound scientific analyses of the U.S. food consumption information to enhance the effectiveness and management of national and community food and nutrition programs.




During FY 2005, ARS will


survey and analyze national food consumption patterns of Americans. 


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS released on the Web, nutrient intakes of the U.S. population from the “What We Eat in America, NHANES 2001-2002” dietary survey.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information, from the only nationally representative dietary survey, is widely used by government, academia, and private industry to monitor American food consumption trends and dietary nutritional adequacy.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS published on the Web, tables of Food Pyramid serving intakes in the United States as well as a search tool for this analysis.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Information on the adherence by Americans to the dietary recommendations set forth in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides crucial information to USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and is essential for the development of sound nutrition education and food assistance programs by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. 


develop and modify dietary assessment and nutritional status methods.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS showed that a correction method based on measured energy expenditure and body weight can reduce measurement errors inherent in food frequency questionnaires, the dietary assessment method of choice for large scale nutrition studies.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Reducing the error associated with this method provides higher quality epidemiological research on the relationship of diet to health.  

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Last Modified: 4/3/2006
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