Publications

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  • USDA's Healthy Eating Index and Nutrition Information

    TB-1866, May 12, 1998

    A comprehensive model is developed to measure the extent that nutrition knowledge and diet-health awareness, among other factors, influence an individual's Healthy Eating Index (HEI), USDA's measure of overall diet quality. This is the first study that rigorously attempts to examine variation in the index across population groups by controlling for personal and household characteristics and nutrition information levels, as well as test for endogeneity of nutrition information. Results indicate that one's level of nutrition information has an important influence on one's HEI and that nutrition information and the HEI are simultaneously determined. Other factors explaining variations in HEI's across individuals are income and education levels, race, ethnicity, and age. Evidence supports the hypothesis that higher education promotes more healthful food choices through better acquisition and use of health information.

  • Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, Fiscal 1998, Competitive Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program: Description and Application Process

    AP-002, April 06, 1998

    ERS's Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program accepted proposals for grants and cooperative agreements for fiscal 1998. The three priority research areas were (1) Dietary and Nutrition Outcomes, (2) Food Program Targeting and Delivery, (3) Program Forecasting and Budget Analysis. This publication describes the research areas and application requirements. Funding for competitive awards in fiscal 1998 was between $2 million and $4 million. The deadline for proposal submission was June 5, 1998.

  • The Diets of America's Children: Influences of Dining Out, Household Characteristics, and Nutrition Knowledge

    AER-746, December 31, 1996

    Recent USDA surveys point out several shortcomings in children's diets. The share of calories from total and saturated fat averaged 4 and 3 percentage points above the recommendations. The sodium intake averaged 23 percent above the 2,400 milligrams recommended by some authorities. These dietary problems start early in childhood and continue into adulthood. Additionally, only a small fraction of female adolescents met the recommended intakes for calcium, fiber, and iron. Compared with home foods, away-from-home foods were higher in total and saturated fat and lower in cholesterol, fiber, calcium, iron, and sodium. With increasing popularity in dining out, efforts to improve children's diets may need strengthening.

  • Bacterial Foodborne Disease: Medical Costs and Productivity Losses

    AER-741, August 01, 1996

    Microbial pathogens in food cause an estimated 6.5-33 million cases of human illness and up to 9,000 deaths in the United States each year. Over 40 different foodborne microbial pathogens, including fungi, viruses, parasites, and bacteria, are believed to cause human illnesses. For six bacterial pathogens, the costs of human illness are estimated to be $9.3-$12.9 billion annually. Of these costs, $2.9-$6.7 billion are attributed to foodborne bacteria. These estimates were developed to provide analytical support for USDA's Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems rule for meat and poultry. (Note that the parasite Toxoplasma gondii is not included in this report.) To estimate medical costs and productivity losses, ERS uses four severity categories for acute illnesses: those who did not visit a physician, visited a physician, were hospitalized, or died prematurely. The lifetime consequences of chronic disease are included in the cost estimates for E. coli O157:H7 and fetal listeriosis.