Launch Free, Portable Nutrient Database
By Rosalie Marion
October 21, 2002
PHILADELPHIA, Pa., Oct. 21,
2002--Owners of handheld personal digital assistants, or PDAs, with a mind
for healthy eating are pulling out their styluses today and pointing their way
to nutritious food choices.
A portable version of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) flagship National Nutrient Database
listing more than 6,000 food items is now available for download free of charge
onto handheld PDAs. This user-friendly searchable nutrient database program
will soon be available for download onto personal computers as well.
"Consumer information and education about healthy lifestyles and diets
will help advance President Bush's Healthier US initiative," said
Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman. "Easy access to nutrient information
on thousands of foods provides a new tool to help consumers follow a healthy
USDA's Agricultural Research Service
and HealtheTech, Inc., of
Golden, Colo., announced the new capability today at the
American Dietetic Association's annual
conference here. The software package has been made available for download from
the Internet to users through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement
between the ARS Nutrient Data
Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., and HealtheTech.
The unique product blends a custom-made searchable software application with
the nutrient database. "Consumers, health professionals and educators
seeking user-friendly nutrient data will no longer be limited to using the
USDA's premier nutrient database only while online," said Phyllis Johnson,
director of the ARS Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center,
which manages the nutrient database.
Owners of PDAs running the Palm
operating system (Palm OS®) can download the searchable database by going
The download takes about 30 seconds and requires about two megabytes of
available memory on PDAs.
"This package is available at no cost as a free 'e-government'
service," said Johnson. "Consumers making decisions in restaurants or
supermarkets and healthcare practitioners in clinical settings will be greatly
assisted by this new level of access." Whether recommending low-sodium
foods for cardiac clients or creating weight-reduction diets for customers,
both physicians and dietitians will be able to access easy-to-use key data.
Assembled by food groupings, the searchable program will allow users to
browse a given category by scrolling through foods listed alphabetically. If
the doctor suggests eating more high-calcium foods, the user can remain in a
buffet line and scroll through the dairy and egg food group and point to
options. Within seconds, the user has the information he or she needs so that
final food selections can be made easily.
Another friendly option of the program is the "portion modifier"
feature. If the portion size listed isn't what the consumer tends to eat, by
adjusting the portion size up or down, the modified portion's nutrient content
is easily accessible.
The searchable software program and database-in-one provides information on
about 30 nutrients for each food listed in a highly portable and easy-to-access
format. "This package literally puts current nutrient data at the user's
fingertips. It's nutrition in your pocket, at home or at work," said