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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

2002 Annual Performance Report & 2003, 2004, 2005 Annual Performance Plans
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1 - Introduction
2 - Table of Contents
3 - Goal I
4 - Goal II
5 - Goal III
6 - Goal IV
7 - Goal V
8 - Goal VI
9 - Summary of Agency Resources for FY 2003
10 - Summary of Agency Resources for FY 2004
Goal III

GOAL III:  To Promote a Healthy Population Through Improved Nutrition.

Funding by Program Activity ($000's)

     FY 2002

     FY 2003

     FY 2004

    Soil, Water & Air Sciences

                0

                 0

               0 

    Plant Sciences

                0

                 0

               0

    Animal Sciences

                0

                 0

               0

    Commodity Conversion & Delivery

                0

                 0

               0

    Human Nutrition

       74,936

        78,253

      80,832

    Integration of Agricultural Systems

                0

                 0

               0

               Total

     $74,936

      $78,253

    $80,832

    FTEs

288

 288

  288

NOTE: Not included in the table are appropriations for repairs and maintenance of ARS facilities and for some of Homeland Security. 

Analysis of Results in FY 2002:  This goal is the focus of much of ARS’ research related to human nutrition and health.  Under Goal III, 8 Indicators are aligned under 3 Performance Goals.  Because of the unique and dynamic nature of research, several Indicators were added, deleted, or modified in this report that did not first appear in the Annual Performance Plan for FY 2002.  This was done to ensure that significant accomplishments that were not anticipated last year were reported.  While it is not possible to report research accomplishments numerically, the progress projected in all 8 Indicators were completed or substantially completed during FY 2002.  Seventeen significant accomplishments are reported below.

Means and Strategies:  To successfully accomplish the research activities under this goal, ARS will need the level of human, fiscal, physical, and information resources shown in the budget estimates for fiscal years 2003 and 2004.

Verification and Validation:  ARS currently conducts a series of review processes designed to ensure the relevance and quality of its research work and to maintain the highest possible standards for its scientists.  A more detailed description of the evaluation plans can be found in the introduction to this plan.

OBJECTIVE 3.1:  Nutritious food:  “Maintain an adequate, nutritious, and safe supply of food to meet human nutritional needs and requirements.”

STRATEGY 3.1.1:  Human nutrition requirements:  Determine requirements for nutrients and other food components of children, pregnant and lactating women, adults, and elderly of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 3.1.1.1:  Indicators of function determined and related to diet and health.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

identify sensitive biomarkers that can be used as indicators of status.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Studies in Boston, Massachusetts, showed that elevated plasma homocysteine in cognitively normal elderly individuals at baseline greatly increased the risk of cognitive decline and dementia at follow-up 8 years later, and twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in a 10-12 year follow-up study.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Homocysteine levels can be reduced through B vitamin supplementation, which might also reduce the associated risk of cognitive disease.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists in Davis, California, have demonstrated a link between iron status and cognitive function in adults, i.e., hemoglobin status may be a modulator of one’s ability to concentrate.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research provides new and important knowledge on performance and nutritional consequences of iron restriction and is of particular scientific importance because iron deficiency anemia is the most prevalent nutritional disorder in the world for women of childbearing age.  The Bakan Vigilance cognitive test, used to assess the ability to concentrate, may perhaps be a new, noninvasive, functional indicator of developing iron insufficiency.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists in Boston, Massachusetts, recently reported on a newly discovered iron transporter (IREG1 or ferroportin) responsible for iron export from the intestine that is regulated by cellular iron status. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This finding coupled with previous observations that iron also regulates the expression of the iron influx transporter called DMT1, suggests that these transporter genes are regulated in a parallel fashion to control intestinal iron absorption.  Since iron stores are regulated primarily by the level of intestinal iron absorption, a greater understanding of the molecular mechanism of iron transport in the enterocyte may help to identify persons at risk of iron deficiency and iron overload.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers in Boston, Massachusetts, in collaboration with the University of Maryland’s Aging Program, have recently discovered that perilipin expression is altered in fat cells from obese humans, and that perilipin may be critical in regulating lipolysis.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Since regulation of fat metabolism is integral to understanding the development of obesity, this information has important implications for the development of obesity and helps to explain why obese individuals have an increased risk for developing medical complications such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.

develop a better understanding of the nutrient needs of infants and children.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists in Houston, Texas, found that osmolality, feeding volume, and nutrient density all affect the rate of gastric emptying and appear to play an equal role in the feeding intolerance encountered by preterm infants.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These findings will be used to optimize the composition of formula and feeding protocols for preterm infants.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists in Houston, Texas, have established contemporary reference standards for body composition (fat, bone, muscle, water) for European-, African-, and Mexican-American children.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These standards demonstrated that anthropometric indices used to classify overweight and obese children are not reliable.  Accurate identification of children with high risk for adult obesity is possible, so that appropriate diet/physical activity interventions can be efficiently targeted.  A reference standard is needed to accurately define obesity in children.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  A better understanding of the metabolic processes related to obesity is needed.  Researchers in Houston, Texas, observed that female and male mice exhibited markedly different immunological and inflammatory activity in fat cell and liver tissue.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This is the first observation of what appears to be a hitherto unknown obesity induced gender difference related to body fat and immunity.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers in Houston, Texas, found that chronic exposure to conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) was able to inhibit the formation of mature fat cells by suppressing the transcription factor ADD1.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These findings provide a cellular basis that explains how feeding CLA may reduce body fat mass in animals and humans.

During FY 2003, ARS will

identify genetic markers that can be used as indicators of nutritional status.

develop a better understanding of how nutrients influence the gut immune system.

During FY 2004, ARS will

develop a better understanding of the nutrient needs of the elderly.

evaluate the role of mineral nutrition in prevention of colon cancer.

During FY 2005, ARS will

develop a better understanding of the multifaceted factors involved in regulation of body weight.

develop a better understanding of the factors influencing bioavailability of nutrients.

STRATEGY 3.1.2:  Food composition and consumption:  Develop techniques for determining food composition, maintain national food composition databases, monitor the food and nutrient consumption of the U.S. population, and develop and transfer effective nutrition intervention strategies.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 3.1.2.1:  Transfer new measurement techniques and data to users and release results of surveys.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

obtain data from a fully merged dietary intake survey.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  USDA/ARS scientists in Beltsville, Maryland, successfully implemented the new USDA Automated Multiple-Pass Method (AMPM) dietary intake instrument and related systems in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).  This is a landmark milestone in dietary survey integration, combining the survey activities of USDA’s Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals with those of the Department of Health and Human Services NHANES to form the integrated survey entitled “What We Eat in America, NHANES 2002.”  A sample of 5,000 individuals was interviewed in 2002, with day 1 of dietary intakes being collected in person and day 2 collected by telephone.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The data collected from this survey have applications in national policy formation, regulation, program planning and evaluation, development of dietary guidance, and nutrition research.

update the national nutrient database and release the latest standard reference.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Release 15 of the Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR15) was made available.  SR15 is the major product of the National Nutrient Databank System, which is available on the Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, Web site (www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp) and on CD-ROM.  SR15 provides estimates of composition for up to 80 components and approximately 6,200 foods and provides new database information for folic acid and vitamin A expressed according to new recommendations by the National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Food Composition data developed by the Nutrient data laboratory are the foundation of virtually all public and commercial nutrient databases used in the United States and a number of foreign countries.  Ongoing periodic updates of the Standard Reference Database provide data that is accurate, current, and representative of the changing food supply.  New data are transferred to users.

identify positive dietary behavior that can be used to effectively intervene in young children to improve nutritional status.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Studies were conducted in Little Rock, Arkansas, looking at brain function (electrophysiologically) and behavior of children aged 8-11 to test skills important in learning, cognitive function, and attention.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These studies suggest that children who eat breakfast are more attentive and commit fewer errors compared with those who skip breakfast.  Additional major studies using electrophysiological testing found that Failure to Thrive (FTT) children were significantly inferior to controls in cognitive measures of school performance, language, and intelligence.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Scientists in Houston, Texas, have shown the beneficial effects of calcium fortification of breakfast foods and iron and zinc fortification of beverages.  These have proved to be a safe and effective method for adding bioavailable minerals to the diets of small children, and will help provide many of their critical nutritional needs.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research will allow for clearer identification of the nutrient requirements of children as related to bioavailability.

During FY 2003, ARS will

identify intervention strategies for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption by at-risk populations.

cooperate with the National Center for Health Sciences (NCHS) to obtain data from a fully merged dietary intake survey.  ARS will obtain survey data and begin to process information obtained from the single survey.

update the National Nutrition Database.

During FY 2004, ARS will

release 2001 and 2002 data obtained from the “What We Eat In America” dietary survey.

update the National Nutrient Database and release the latest Standard Reference.

During FY 2005, ARS will

release 2003 data obtained from the “What We Eat in America” dietary survey.

release of joint ARS-NIH dietary supplement database.

STRATEGY 3.1.3:  Nutritious plant and animal products:  Provide input to plant and animal scientists so that more nutritious plant and animal products for human consumption may be developed.

PERFORMANCE GOAL 3.1.3.1: Improved nutritional quality of animal and plant products.

Indicators:

During FY 2002, ARS will

determine the bioavailability of minerals in plants.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists in Grand Forks, North Dakota, developed a method to extract Se from a plant source and determine the resulting form of Se by HPLC coupled to a mass spectrometer.  They have demonstrated that selenium in broccoli exists primarily in the form of Se-methyl selenocysteine, but that methyl selenol is the primary form of the element absorbed across the cell.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These results help explain the observed high efficacy of Se from broccoli for preventing colon cancer.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Studies conducted in Grand Forks, North Dakota, showed that marginal nutritional deficiencies of Ca and Fe enhanced the absorption of cadmium by 6-fold and increased the body burden of cadmium by a similar amount.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  These studies show that people who consume marginal amounts of essential trace elements may be more susceptible to cadmium toxicosis than those with adequate intakes of essential minerals.

utilize diverse germplasm resources to improve the nutritive value of horticultural and agronomic crops.  The genetic control of phytonutrient accumulation in crop commodities will be determined, and traditional breeding and biotechnology-based strategies utilized to develop new cultivars with improved nutritive value.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Beta-glucan content of barley and oats has proven nutritive value for reducing cholesterol and other heart-healthy benefits.  ARS scientists at Madison, Wisconsin, determined beta-glucan levels of the 2,665 barley accessions in the USDA National Small Grains Collections for beta-glucan content. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This information was entered into the ARS GRIN database for use by all barley researchers in developing new food and feed barley varieties with high beta-glucan content.

evaluate cultivar and preharvest/postharvest interactions which influence crop nutritive value.  Production and postharvest practices will be optimized to enhance and preserve intrinsic crop nutritive value.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Color is a key component that influences consumer perceptions of quality in fresh and processed tomato products.  Carotenoids that impart color also enhance the nutritive value of ripe tomato fruit.  Beta-carotene and lycopene are the principal colored carotenoids in tomato fruit and are recognized for their retinoid and/or antioxidant properties.  Cherry tomato breeding lines rich in beta-carotene have been developed for use in the development of commercial cultivars.  Expression of the Beta gene in these lines results in orange fruit pigmentation due to the accumulation of high levels of beta-carotene at the expense of lycopene.  While analytical evaluations demonstrated that a number of quality parameters were similar between the two types of fruit, sensory analyses were conducted to assess real and perceived differences in fruit quality between the high beta-carotene cherry tomato lines and the conventional lycopene containing red cultivars.  Panelists preferred the appearance of the red cultivars when viewed under normal lighting, but scored many of the fruit quality attributes from red and orange genotypes similarly whether or not they could discern the color. 

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The results indicate a color bias for red-pigmented fruit and highlight the influence that color has on perception of tomato fruit quality, since, in a number of ways, red and orange tomato types scored similarly in nutritive and quality characteristics.  This information is valuable as plant breeders seek to provide the public with vegetables with the best health promoting profiles possible.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers at Weslaco, Texas, in cooperation with Texas A&M University, using known, available honeydew hybrids, demonstrated that three highly critical human-wellness compounds (vitamin C, folic acid, and potassium) were increased by as much as four-fold when harvesting specific ‘grade’ sizes of fruits grown on clay loam versus sandy loam (the traditionally used soil).  It was discovered that some hybrids are consistently highly concentrated in these compounds year after year.

IMPACT/OUTCOME:  This research demonstrated that U.S. melon growers can improve the phytonutrient values of their crop by simply selecting a specific melon hybrid, growing it on clay loam, and producing large fruit; and that traditional breeding practices can further enhance the phytonutrient content of this crop.  Improving the phytonutrient content is important as a natural way to maintain the health of the U.S. population.

During FY 2003, ARS will

utilize diverse germplasm resources to improve the nutritive value of horticultural and agronomic crops.  The genetic control of phytonutrient accumulation in crop commodities will be determined and traditional breeding and biotechnology-based strategies utilized to develop new cultivars with improved nutritive value.

evaluate cultivar and preharvest/postharvest interactions which influence crop nutritive value.  Production and postharvest practices will be optimized to enhance and preserve intrinsic crop nutritive value.

During FY 2004, ARS will

utilize diverse germplasm resources to improve the nutritive value of horticultural and agronomic crops.  The genetic control of phytonutrient accumulation in crop commodities will be determined and traditional breeding and biotechnology-based strategies utilized to develop new cultivars with improved nutritive value.

evaluate cultivar and preharvest/postharvest interactions which influence crop nutritive value.  Production and postharvest practices will be optimized to enhance and preserve intrinsic crop nutritive value.

During FY 2005, ARS will

utilize diverse germplasm resources to improve the nutritive value of horticultural and agronomic crops.  The genetic control of phytonutrient accumulation in crop commodities will be determined and traditional breeding and biotechnology-based strategies utilized to develop new cultivars with improved nutritive value.

evaluate cultivar and preharvest/postharvest interactions which influence crop nutritive value.  Production and postharvest practices will be optimized to enhance and preserve intrinsic crop nutritive value.

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Last Modified: 2/24/2004
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