recommendations are based largely on the discussions at a workshop, which it sponsored in May 2004, to hear from USDA and other federal agencies with food and nutrition-related policy responsibilities and from statistical agencies and private firms that collect data on food consumption and expenditures.


No single data source currently provides or could provide all of the needed information. A number of data sources provide some of the information, but each has some weaknesses in addressing policy-related questions.

Relevant datasets fall under three categories:

  1. federal datasets that are primary sources of data on food consumption, food expenditures, and dietary attitudes and knowledge:

  • the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics on a continuing basis since 1999;

  • the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII), last conducted by USDA in 1994-1996 (and again in 1998 for children under age 10), which was discontinued and then integrated into NHANES, beginning in 2002;

  • the Diet and Health Knowledge Survey (DHKS), a past supplement to CSFII that was not part of the integrated NHANES-CSFII, but is a source of questions for a new supplement to NHANES under development by ERS, the Flexible Consumer Behavior Survey Module; and

  • the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE), conducted on a continuing basis since 1980 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  1. proprietary data collected by private market research firms to analyze food and related markets:

  • retail and household scanner data, which include quantities sold and prices from bar codes on products purchased at retail outlets, for which the major producers are ACNielsen and Information Resources, Inc. (IRI);

  • the National Eating Trends Survey, a small survey conducted by the NPD Group that obtains 14-day diaries of food intake; and

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