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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Food Surveys Research Group

2010 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The mission of the Food Survey Research Group is to monitor and assess food consumption and related behavior of the U.S. population by conducting surveys and providing the resulting information for food and nutrition-related programs and public policy decisions. The following four objectives provide the structure and priorities to assure that this fundamental nutrition work is conducted with scientific integrity in a timely fashion. Objective 1. In collaboration with DHHS’ National Center for Health Statistics, collect, process, and disseminate nationwide dietary survey data according to specified timelines. Objective 2. Maintain and update supporting survey-related databases based upon scientifically sound research and utilizing new technological innovations. Objective 3. Assess dietary measurement error and update and/or revise dietary data collection methods and quality control procedures to enhance the accuracy and precision of dietary survey data. Objective 4. Analyze and interpret results from the nationwide dietary survey focusing on strategies for correct use of data, dietary nutritional adequacy of the American population and at-risk sub-groups, public health nutritional concerns, and/or policy implications.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
The research approach is to maintain and enhance the components of the USDA Dietary Intake Data System to assure that the dietary collection method, the USDA Automated Multiple Pass Method (AMPM), and the supporting systems and databases result in the collection of dietary data that are scientifically sound, accurate, and valid. The USDA AMPM is being used to collect 10,000 dietary recalls yearly in What We Eat In America, the dietary interview component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The Food Surveys Research Group, having the lead responsibility for the dietary assessment component of NHANES, will assure that 1) the dietary collection method collects accurate data and is valid, 2) the data collected meet stakeholder needs and are released in a timely fashion, 3) the systems for data collection and processing are technologically advanced and efficient, 4) the dietary databases to support data analyses are scientifically sound and current so as to reflect the U.S. food supply at the time of data collection, and 5) the applications developed for collection and processing are made available to the fullest extent possible. Special purpose databases to support specialized research policy needs,including the MyPyramid Equivalents Database used to assess American diets in relation to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, will be developed and maintained.

3. Progress Report
The Food Surveys Research Group (FSRG) is conducting quality control oversight for dietary intake data collection, coding, and processing for What We Eat In America (WWEIA), the dietary interview component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2010. During 2010, the 2009 dietary data collected in WWEIA were reviewed and edited using a 4-step quality control and review program. An extensive review and update of the USDA 5-step Automated Multiple-Pass Method (AMPM), the method used to collect 24-hour dietary recall in WWEIA, was completed in FY10 for implementation in the 2011 collection year. To assure that dietary methodology reflect important changes in the U.S. food market, selected food categories were reviewed and food data in the AMPM and related databases were updated. These updates are critical for assuring that data being collected will provide the information to support scientific nutrition policy needs. The review assessed and updated about one-third of the foods reported in WWEIA, NHANES. Stakeholder outreach on WWEIA, NHANES dietary data was conducted in several venues by FSRG scientists. Analysis of the 2007-2008 WWEIA, NHANES data is underway to construct dietary data briefs for release on the FSRG Web site in FY11 and for research papers. The Food Intake as Retail Commodities Database (FIARC) for use with three surveys, the CSFII 1994-1996 and 1998, NHANES 1999-2000, and WWEIA, NHANES 2001-2002, was completed. FIARC for WWEIA, NHANES 2003-2004 is being developed. These databases, developed in collaboration with the Economic Research Service, define foods reported in national dietary surveys by 65 unique retail food commodities in order to report on food consumption by those commodities. The FIARC will be used by policy makers, economists, commodity groups, and researchers to assess food intake closer to the farm gate. The MyPyramid Equivalents Database (MPED) corresponds with specific 2-year data releases of WWEIA, NHANES to provide the analytical basis for researchers to evaluate diets based on the recommendations of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as defined in the MyPyramid food guidance. An assessment and redesign of the process for developing the database with the underlying purpose of being able to provide the MPED in a more timely manner and reflect the changes based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is underway.

4. Accomplishments
1. Release of national survey data from What We Eat in America, NHANES 2007-2008. Through an ongoing collaboration with the National Center for Health Statistics of DHHS, the Food Surveys Research Group (FSRG) has the leadership role for dietary data collection and processing of What We Eat in America (WWEIA), NHANES. FSRG is in the eighth successful year of that agreement. New nationwide dietary intake data were collected in WWEIA for the years 2007-2008 and were released on the Internet for public use. The data include information on dietary intakes of 9,255 individuals from two nonconsecutive-day, 24-hour dietary recalls along with sample weights that can be used to make estimates about dietary intakes of the U.S. population. These data are used by Federal- and state-level decision makers and researchers in such tasks as monitoring the nutritional adequacy of U.S. diets, modeling the impact of food fortification on nutrient intakes, estimating exposure of population groups to contaminants, developing dietary guidance, and assessing the demand for agricultural products. Linked with health indicators from other components of the NHANES, these data provide opportunities to study relationships between eating patterns and health conditions. The data are accessible from

2. Release of summary dietary data tables and data briefs. WWEIA, NHANES dietary intake data have been analyzed and results have been released on the web in summarized data tables and dietary data briefs. Twenty-eight tables were added to the eight available for WWEIA, NHANES 2005-2006 and 36 tables were released for WWEIA, NHANES 2007-2008. The tables report nutrient intakes from food and the contribution of protein, carbohydrates, fat and alcohol in the American diet as well as the following: percentage of nutrients contributed by foods eaten away from home, at breakfast, at lunch, at dinner and as snacks; distribution of snack occasion; and distribution of meal patterns. They also provide dietary information for individuals ages 2 and older based on income level and ethnicity. Dietary data briefs on milk consumption and adolescent snacking were also developed and released on the web. The availability of these tables and data briefs is beneficial in providing dietary survey results to food and nutrition program policy and decision makers in Federal, state, and local government, researchers at academic institutions, nutrition scientists and educators, and food and agricultural specialists in industry. The tables are accessible from

3. Update and Release of the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies. The USDA Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies 4.1 (FNDDS) was released on the Internet in FY10. The FNDDS is an extensive database of foods as consumed in the U.S. that is used to code foods and portion sizes and to calculate nutrients for the large-scale Federal food consumption survey, What We Eat In America (WWEIA), the dietary intake component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). FNDDS contains information for more than 7,000 foods. Values for food energy and 64 other nutrients are included for each food, as well as weights for common portions of the food. Most of the nutrient values in FNDDS are derived from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference 22. New versions of FNDDS are released every two years to accompany the release of the WWEIA, NHANES data. This update (version 4.1) of FNDDS was used to process food intakes from WWEIA, NHANES 2007-2008. The database is also a valuable research tool for scientists conducting studies that collect food intake data. The database is accessible from

4. Release of updated What’s In The Foods You Eat Search Tool. The What’s In The Foods You Eat Search Tool is a consumer-friendly companion to the FNDDS 4.1. This tool allows users to easily determine the nutrient content of foods in consumer-friendly portions. The Search Tool is accessible from

5. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
Collaboration in the Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity Across the Life Span Study (HANDLS): The primary objective of HANDLS is to create a representative 20-year longitudinal study across the lifespan focused on investigating the differential influences of race and socioeconomic status on health. The study sample includes European-Americans and African-Americans 30-64 years of age from both low and high socioeconomic strata residing in Baltimore City, Maryland. Anticipating attrition rates over the life of the study, the initial sample is 4,000 participants. Food Surveys Research Group (FSRG) scientists have collaborated on the dietary component of HANDLS by providing scientific and technical support for the successful launch of dietary data collection that began in the fall of 2005. Numerous training sessions were conducted for HANDLS staff on the use of the USDA Automated Multiple Pass Method for collection of 24-hour recalls and SurveyNet for coding and analysis of dietary intake data. Once dietary data collection was underway, FSRG scientists have provided technical oversight of the data processing steps and systems, assuring data quality and integrity.

Review Publications
Guenther, P.M., Bowman, S.A., Goldman, J.D. 2010. Alcoholic beverage consumption by adults 21 years and over in the United States: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2006. Technical Report. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Available:

Last Modified: 05/27/2017
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