Food and Nutrient Databases:
Overcoming the Seesaw Between
Comprehensiveness and Completeness
Denise King, PhD
Lisa Harnack, DrPH, RD
University of Minnesota Nutrition Coordinating Center
ncc.umn.edu
Nutrition Coordinating Center
• Mission: To develop, provide, and
support state-of-the-art methods and
databases for researchers for the
collection and analysis of dietary data
• Founded in 1974 to support NHLBI Lipid
Research Clinics (LRC) and the Multiple
Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT)
Objectives
• What exactly is a food and nutrient
database?
• How are these databases used?
• The challenge- completeness versus
comprehensiveness
• Solutions to this challenge
What is a food and nutrient
database?
Database that
quantifies the
nutrient
composition of
foods
Total Protein (g)
1.09
Total Fat (g)
0.33
Total Carbohydrate (g)
22.84
Total Dietary Fiber (g)
2.6
Magnesium (mg)
27
Phosphorus (mg)
22
Potassium (mg)
Sodium (mg)
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) (mg)
358
1
8.7
Thiamin (vitamin B1) (mg)
0.031
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) (mg)
0.073
Food and Nutrient
Database Uses
Nutrition Labeling
Self Quantified MovementDiet Trackers
Research
• F.D.A. Ruling Would All but Eliminate
Trans Fats The New York Times November 7, 2013
• Study Questions Fat and Heart
Disease Link The New York Times March 17, 2014
• Obesity Studies Tell Two Stories,
Both Right The New York Times April 14, 2014
Nutrition Surveillance
• NHANES – National Health and
Nutrition Examination Survey
• FITS - Feeding Infant and Toddlers
Study (Gerber)
Medical Management of
Diseases
Menu Planning in Institutions
Variety of databases available
Public
Private
Common Needs
Includes the Foods Americans Eat
American Palate is Diversifying
Spring Roll
Chinese Broccoli
Arroz con Leche
Jambalaya
Tabbouleh
Tamale
Cannoli
Caribou Stew
Spanakopita
Naan
General Tso Chicken
Kreplach
Kept Current with the Marketplace
A High Level of Completeness
• Does the database
include the
nutrient(s) needed
(e.g. oxalic acid)?
• How complete are
the nutrient data for
foods in the
database?
Seesaw Issue
Comprehensive
Complete
Seesaw Issue
Complete
Comprehensive
Comparison of Completeness
Database
# Foods
# Nutrients
Vitamin D
Completeness (%)
FNDDS*
7,253
65
59
NCC
18,000
165
100
ESHA*
40,000
133
20
*Source: International Nutrient Databank Directory,
http://www.nutrientdataconf.org/indd/index.cfm?event=databases
Accessed Aug 29,2014
How do we achieve a balance
between comprehensiveness
and completeness?
How do we go beyond
the label nutrients?
Reverse Engineer Foods to Create
Food Formulations/Recipes
Food calculation program that…
Estimates ingredient
amounts that
– Follow ingredient
statement convention
AND
– Produce a recipe with
a nutrient composition
profile that closely
matches nutrition facts
panel information
‘Core’ foods allow reverse
engineering to work
Other Challenges
• Language used to describe foods
Descriptive AND user friendly!
• Currency – consumer choice is
exploding, an effect of consumer
demand and public policy
Future Considerations
• Branded Food Products Database –
current nutrition label and ingredient
information provided by manufacturers
• International Databases – different
languages, nutrient fortification levels
present difficulties (FAO-INFOODS)
Resources
• http://www.ncc.umn.edu/
• http://www.nutrientdataconf.org/indd/
• http://www.ncc.umn.edu/products/databaseconsiderati
ons.html
• http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/
• http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=12089
• http://www.fao.org/infoods/infoods/tables-anddatabases/en/
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