U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Agricultural Research Magazine 60(3): March 2012 pp. 16-21; ISSN 0002-161X


In 2010, landmark health legislation— the Affordable Care Act—was passed, leading to a national strategy crossing both private and public sectors and led by the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council of the Surgeon General. The plan is called the “National Prevention Strategy.”

Science-based dietary-intake data from the Agricultural Research Service provides a key foundation for multiple public health policy publications, including the council’s strategy report, published in June 2011. The report cites the ARS national dietary-intake survey data to underscore the ability of everyday people to improve their health through healthy eating and other preventive measures.

Collecting data on what we eat in America is a key monitoring step that connects what Americans eat to their nutrition and health status and to health outcomes. Research nutritionists work on translating “foods eaten” into “nutrients consumed” to get a snapshot of the population’s nutrient intake status. The dietary-intake survey data—after analysis—helps inform major nutrition policy, such as food fortification regulations, nutrition education, food assistance and safety programs, and various dietary guidelines.