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NHANES Dietary Web Tutorial

Dietary Data Overview


This module provides an overview of the dietary data in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) by briefly describing the history of national dietary surveillance, the methodology for collecting dietary data, and uses of these data. 


Task 1: Describe the History of Dietary Data Collection

For many decades, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) each collected dietary data using a variety of methodologies, including in-person and telephone interviews and self-administered surveys. In 2002, USDA and HHS integrated their dietary recall data collection efforts into the current NHANES.  In addition to the 24-hour dietary recall data, NHANES collects other information on dietary behaviors, including supplement usage and frequency of food consumption, as well as a range of health measures and sociodemographics.  These data respond to a variety of public health and research priorities.


Task 2: Describe NHANES Dietary Collection Methods

NHANES collects dietary data through interviews, physical examinations, and post-examination interviews and questionnaires.  Dietary data collection is integrated into these data collection modes, which include 24-hour recalls, food frequency questionnaires, and survey questionnaires. 


Task 3: Describe Uses of the Dietary Data

HHS, USDA, other federal agencies, and a wide range of researchers are major users of NHANES dietary data.  These data have been central to the formulation of public health policy and practice.



For an overview of the history, methodology of, and uses of the overall NHANES, visit the Continuous NHANES Web Tutorial.


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