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Nutrient Intakes (RNIs) have been used in the past, although there may be other uses that are not identified here.

Evaluation of Dietary Data

Dietary reference standards have been used to evaluate dietary intake data for individuals, frequently in conjunction with biochemical, clinical, or anthropometric data. They can also be used to evaluate intake data for groups of individuals. Possible uses in evaluating groups include: estimating the percentage of the population at risk of inadequate or excessive intake; identifying subgroups at risk of inadequate or excessive intake; examining changes over time in the percentage of the population and of population subgroups at risk of inadequate or excessive intake; monitoring the potential of the food supply to meet the nutritional needs of the population; and examining trends and changes in food consumption over time.

Nutrition Education and Guides for Food Selection

Nutrient standards (specifically, the former RDAs and RNIs) have long been the foundation for discussing nutrient needs, for comparing the nutritional value of foods, and for counseling individuals and groups on how to meet nutritional requirements as part of nutrition education (Sims, 1996). Dietary assessment also provides information for nutrition education efforts and guides food selection. By linking findings from dietary assessment with foods consumed, it is possible to identify foods that are important contributors of nutrients, specify food consumption patterns that might reduce the probability of dietary inadequacy, and educate individuals and groups about appropriate foods and food consumption patterns. The difficulty encountered in applying dietary reference standards for this purpose is in translating quantitative nutrient recommendations into food-based information for dietary planning. Food guides, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Guide Pyramid and Health Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating, attempt to do just this. These guides group foods according to their nutrient contributions and provide recommendations for selecting the types and amounts of foods that provide the recommended intakes for most nutrients (Welsh et al., 1992). It may be difficult, however, to develop food guides which meet the RDAs and AIs for all nutrients, and consideration of the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) in developing or modifying food guides will provide an additional challenge.

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