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those operating in the public health arena an informed decision based on the best available scientific expertise and judgment, even if not perfect or very precise, than to offer no information, which by default provides no guidance for evaluating or dealing with the current situation.

  • Available datasets are often incomplete, and scientific uncertainties must be dealt with through use of scientific judgment and judicious, transparent documentation.

  • Meeting the scientific needs of users/sponsors requires a framework for ensuring understanding of the needs and a useful presentation of the scientific assessments, as well as the independence of the scientific evaluations and protection of the scientific reviewers from undue stakeholder influence.

Finally, the DRI framework recognizes the considerable utility in organizing and rating the available data through the use of systematic reviews (Taylor, 2008; Russell et al., 2009), which are now a well-established process in many fields of medicine. However, unlike a systematic review of a medical intervention, a systematic review for the relationship between nutrient intake and a health outcome is much broader. In contrast with focused clinical interventions, most nutrients have direct and indirect effects on a wide range of health outcomes and could potentially reduce the risk of chronic diseases. In turn, the breadth of outcomes—and thus research that needs to be assessed—is greater than that for a medical intervention; as a result, considerable care is required in formulating and prioritizing the key questions to be addressed (Chung et al., 2010).

Definition of Dietary Reference Intakes

The DRIs are comprised of several reference values that relate to the concept of a distribution of requirements and a distribution of intakes. These different values are tools for assessing and planning diets and are most applicable for use with groups of people because the exact nutritional requirements of an individual cannot be known. The application of DRI nutrient reference values for these general purposes is wide and diverse. They range from use by federal government agencies in making national nutrition policy or developing federal nutrition and food assistance programs, to work at the local level in assessing diets of groups and individuals. Public health protection and promotion is the common interest. Further, DRIs address nutrients in foods overall. Because people structure diets primarily by selecting individual foods as opposed to selecting a set of nutrients, an important role of government and related advisory groups has been the task of translating quantitative nutrient reference values into



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