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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BHNRC) » Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center » Food Surveys Research Group » Research » Research Project #435978

Research Project: The Role of Dietary and Lifestyle Factors on Nutrition and Related Health Status Using Large-Scale Survey Data

Location: Food Surveys Research Group

2019 Annual Report


1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Determine if adherence to Dietary Guidelines recommendations, such as consuming fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limiting added sugars and saturated fat, is associated with fewer health risk factors among the population and population subgroups in What We Eat in America, NHANES. [NP107, C2, PS2B] Objective 2: Establish whether variations in meal patterns, such as meal skipping, eating away from home, and snack and beverage consumption, are associated with diet quality and health risk factors among the population and population subgroups in What We Eat in America, NHANES. [NP107, C2, PS2B] Objective 3: Investigate if flavonoid intake is positively associated with diet quality and negatively associated with cardiovascular health markers and health outcomes among at-risk adults in the NIH Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span (HANDLS) study. [NP107, C2, PS2B]


1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Diet-related disease rates have risen in the U.S. over the past two decades. Secular trends in food intake show that a majority of Americans continue to follow unhealthy eating patterns. Progress in reversing these trends requires evidence-based, comprehensive, and coordinated strategies. Two large-scale health surveys conducted by the Federal government--the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span (HANDLS) study--provide extensive data on dietary and health measures. What We Eat in America (WWEIA), the dietary component of NHANES, is the sole source of nationally representative food and nutrient intake data in the U.S. It provides food and nutrient estimates for not only the general population, but also for specific subgroups including low-income individuals, children, and minority populations. The National Institutes of Health-sponsored HANDLS study allow estimation of food and nutrient intake in populations who have been identified as particularly vulnerable to nutrition-related diseases. FSRG scientists, responsible for the dietary methodology used in NHANES and HANDLS, are expertly positioned to utilize data from these surveys to conduct secondary data analyses. Factors related to healthy food choices and dietary patterns available from these studies across gender/age and socio-demographic groups will be analyzed to 1) scientifically evaluate factors related to adherence of Dietary Guideline recommendations, particularly those that many fail to meet, and identify associations with health benefits; 2) comprehensively explore the variety of meal patterns across the population and population subgroups and establish associations with dietary quality and health risk factors; and 3) investigate associations of flavonoid intake with diet quality and cardiovascular health markers and health outcomes among at-risk adults in the unique HANDLS study. The evidence-based knowledge resulting from this research will also inform Federal policy addressing the nutritional well-being of Americans through future nutrition program needs.


3. Progress Report:
A number of scientific literature reviews have been conducted on factors related to healthy food choices and patterns identified in this project including vegetarian diets, food consumed away from home, food preparation at home, fast food consumption, and flavonoid intakes among African Americans and at-risk populations. These reviews are being used to inform the plan and conduct of data analysis for Hypotheses 1A, 2A and B, and 3A and B. A dietary data brief was published reporting that Americans had reduced their added sugars intake from 21 to 16 teaspoon equivalents between 2003-2004 and 2015-2016. Other notable changes during that same time period were a 13-gram reduction in solid fats intake, from 48 to 35 grams, and although small, but significant, an increase in whole grains intake from 0.6 to 0.9 ounce equivalents. There were no changes in intakes for the components of fruit; vegetables; dairy; and total meat, poultry and seafood intakes during this 12-year period.


4. Accomplishments
1. Release of a dietary data brief on assessing added sugars intake and changes in food intakes over time by Americans. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend that Americans limit their added sugars intake to less than 10 percent of daily calories. Although the majority of Americans (56%) were not meeting this added sugars recommendation, results between 2003-2004 and 2015-2016 show there has been a decrease in mean daily added sugars intake, from 21 to 16 teaspoon equivalents, respectively. Intakes of solid fats during this 12-year time period have also decreased, from 48 to 35 grams, respectively. However, no changes were noted in the fruit; vegetables; dairy; and total meat, poultry, and seafood intakes.