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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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2003 Annual Performance Report
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1 - Introduction
2 - Table of Contents
3 - Goals 1 & 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 are aligned under 3 Performance Measures.  Because of the adoption of a new ARS Strategic Plan 2003-2007, the Performance Measures and Indicators have changed dramatically from those last reported in the FY 2002 Annual Performance Report and FY 2003 to 2005 Annual Performance Plan.  In addition, the agency made a policy decision to have fewer and broader Indicators then in past Plans and Reports.  As the National Programs become more internally coherent, 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 all 6 Indicators were completed or substantially completed during FY 2003.  Twelve 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; and 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 2003, ARS will


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


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers identified eating in the absence of hunger as a behavioral predictor of obesity in Hispanic children.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Eating habits are often not linked to hunger.  Identifying this as a factor for Hispanic children affords the opportunity to develop specific interventional strategies for obesity prevention.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  Researchers found that frequently “eating out” is a particularly strong predictor of excess body fat in adults.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The relationship of “eating out” to adult obesity underscores the central role of diet in the development of body weight problems.


conduct research to enhance the nutritive value of the food supply.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS showed that dairy foods, as part of a weight loss diet, increased body weight and fat loss.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  The addition of dairy foods to a weight loss regime improves body weight and fat loss.  This information was used by the 2005 USDA/HHS Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in concluding that three servings of dairy foods daily would provide needed calcium for osteoporosis prevention while not contributing to excess body weight gain. 


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers demonstrated that eating breakfast favorably affects cognition.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Studies linking breakfast eating with better cognition help justify USDA’s school breakfast programs and the general recommendation not to skip the first meal of the day. 


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists determined the iron bioavailability from plant foods.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Iron from plants is less well absorbed than from meats.  This increases the risk of iron deficiency anemia for vegetarians in the United States and worldwide.  Research on iron bioavailability and methods to compensate for lower absorption helps to alleviate this nutritional problem.


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 2003, ARS will


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


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers found that antioxidants in berries and tea are bioavailable to humans. Also, it improves oxidative stress, glucose homeostasis, and cognitive function.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Showing that berries and tea have several beneficial health effects has expanded consumer demand for these products that are low in calories and high in nutrients.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists showed that a high protein diet does not adversely affect body calcium retention.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Given the popularity of several high protein diets, it is important to know if the long-held view that high protein diets elevate calcium excretion from the body is true.  ARS research demonstrates this is not the case.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS researchers examined the role of vitamin K in bone health in a three-year clinical trial.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Although calcium and vitamin D are essential for proper bone health, other nutrients are required.  Vitamin K is the least studied; ARS research fills this critical void.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists determined the macronutrient needs of very low birth weight infants.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Very low birth weight infants have nutritional needs different from other babies and treating them properly is a medical challenge.  ARS research on their macronutrient needs helps pediatricians in caring for these infants.


develop new methods, conduct food composition analyses, and compile databases for known and new nutrients and health promoting food components.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS released version 16 of the Standard Reference Nutrient Database including 9 new components, a supplemental database on flavonoids, and nutrient database versions for use on personal computers and PDAs.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Annual updates to the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference allow professionals and the public to plan better diets.  Releasing the database in personal computer and PDA formats increases the number of potential users.  The Secretary of Agriculture recognized the value of this latter accomplishment with a USDA Superior Service Award.


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 food consumption information to enhance the effectiveness and management of national and community food and nutrition programs.




During FY 2003, ARS will


survey and analyze national food consumption patterns of Americans.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists completed the data collection phase of an extensive, biomarker- based validation study of the new USDA Automated Multiple Pass Method, the quantitative food intake instrument used in the national food consumption survey.  


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  In this era of escalating U.S. obesity, understanding eating behaviors is essential to reducing the incidence of childhood obesity.


develop and test new dietary assessment methods and nutritional status markers.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS:  ARS scientists identified that a high intake of fast foods by children was associated with poorer nutritional status and increased weight gain.


IMPACT/OUTCOME:  Underreporting of foods consumed by participants in dietary surveys is a common problem. Validation of the new USDA dietary assessment tool is critical to ensuring complete and accurate national food consumption information. 

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Last Modified: 3/1/2005
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