group. However this group generally has little problem achieving needed nutrient intake (LSRO, 1989, 1995).
Another issue is whether a DV based on a population-weighted EAR would facilitate a more meaningful comparison of food vis-à-vis total nutrient needs than would a DV set at the highest EAR, the highest RDA, or a population-weighted RDA. For the purpose of making nutritional comparisons among food products, any reference value would be sufficient, and the concept of a margin of safety or total population coverage is not necessary. However, for the purpose of positioning a food within the context of a total daily diet, basing calculations on a value that includes a margin of safety or covers the entire population would actually distort the overall information. As noted above, within any single life stage or gender group the EAR provides the best estimate of total daily nutrient needs. The RDA overstates these needs for 97 to 98 percent of the population. Thus a guiding principle for a DV based on the highest RDA for a nutrient would provide an exaggerated impression of total daily needs for most people and would systematically under-represent the true contribution of an individual food to these needs. Using a population-weighted RDA for a nutrient would result in a somewhat lower level than would use of the highest RDA (at least for some nutrients), but it would still be an overestimate of the requirement of most people and an underestimate of the contribution of an individual nutrient to this need. Observations about the implications of the population-weighted approach for nutrient content claims, health claims, food formulation, and overages are included later in this chapter.
It is emphasized that this application of the DRIs is subtly different from the recommended applications for planning diets for individuals. Use of the EAR rather than the RDA is appropriate because the former value provides a better estimate of an individual’s true requirement for a nutrient. As such, the EAR provides a better basis against which to appraise the relative significance of a particular food within the context of a total daily diet—which is the goal of the DV. In contrast the RDA is recommended as a goal for planning the diets of individuals. When used as a basis to appraise the nutrient contributions of an individual food to one’s total nutrient needs, however, the RDA—by definition—would present an overestimate of needs for most (97.5 percent) of the population. Thus while meeting the RDA may be a prudent goal for an individual’s diet plan, the RDA is not the most appropriate measure of need for the population overall.
In summary, an important component of the DRI concept is how