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Improving food composition data by standardizing calculation methods

image of Improving food composition data by standardizing calculation methods

Food composition data is important in nutritional policy making. However, food analyses are expensive and to use analysed values only is not economically justifiable; hence recipe calculations are important for the quality of food composition databases. The aim with this project, financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers, was to improve and standardize the recipe calculation method. A general recipe calculation method was developed, implemented and validated by comparing analysed and calculated content. The method and the foods recalculated within the project will be used in national dietary surveys and are available to the public through the national food composition databases. This report may be used as a guide through recipe calculations. Furthermore, the importance of well-structured methods for recipe calculations and possible consequences otherwise are highlighted.

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Introduction

Research in nutrition and toxicology using Nordic food composition data has generated hundreds of publications in high impact journals e.g. Lancet (Augustsson et al. 1999), JAMA (e.g. Larsson et al. 2010) and Journal of the National Cancer Institute (e.g. Menvielle et al. 2009). A prerequisite for this is high quality food composition data, preferably analysed data. However, to build a food composition database exclusively upon analysed values is economically not justifiable or fit for purpose. Hence, foods in food composition databases are calculated to various extents. In the latest national dietary surveys in Sweden (Riksmaten Adults 2010– 11) and in Norway (Norkost 3 2010–11), more than 50 and 30% respectively, of the foods were calculated, indicating the need of high quality standardized method for calculation procedures.

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