Uses and applications of the results from food surveys, physical

Nutr Hosp. 2015;31(Supl. 3):290-292
S.V.R. 318
Uses and applications of the results from food surveys, physical activity
estimates and other lifestyle related surveys at a population level
Javier Aranceta Bartrina1,2,6, Carmen Pérez Rodrigo3, Goiuri Alberdi Aresti4, Lluis Serra-Majem2,5,6
and Gregorio Varela-Moreiras7,8
Departamento de Medicina Preventiva y Salud Pública. Universidad de Navarra. 2Fundación para la Investigación Nutricional,
Parc Científic de Barcelona. 3Fundación FIDEC. Bilbao (Spain). 4School of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Institute
of Medical Sciences, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK. 5Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas y Sanitarias, Universidad de Las Palmas
de Gran Canaria. 6CiberOBN, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid. 7Department of Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences,
Faculty of Pharmacy, CEU San Pablo University; Madrid (SPAIN). 8Spanish Nutrition Foundation (FEN), Madrid (SPAIN).
The results and conclusions of well design nutrition
studies, using the appropriate methods to achieve the intended aims with the best validity and precision possible
are of great value for nutritional, food and toxicological
surveillance systems; also in the planning, follow-up and
evaluation of nutrition and health policies and providing
high value information for the formulation of recommended reference intakes, nutritional objectives and food based dietary guidelines.
(Nutr Hosp 2015;31(Supl. 3):290-292)
Key words: Dietary assessment. Health plans. Nutrition
policies. Recommendations.
Los resultados y las conclusiones de los estudios nutricionales bien diseñados, utilizando la metodología adecuada para lograr los objetivos planteados, con la mayor
validez y precisión posible, son de gran utilidad en los
sistemas de vigilancia nutricional, alimentaria y toxicológica, en la planificación, seguimiento y evaluación de
políticas nutricionales y proporcionan información de
gran interés en el planteamiento de ingestas de referencia, objetivos nutricionales y guías alimentarias.
(Nutr Hosp 2015;31(Supl. 3):290-292)
Palabras clave: Ingesta nutricional. Planes de salud. Políticas nutricionales. Recomendaciones.
Surveys on Nutrition, health and quality of life
Dietary surveys and nutritional studies conducted
with varying complexity are always demanding projects that require the involvement of a large number
and diversity of professionals and resources. The
analysis of derived findings and availability of the database will always be very useful for subsequent actions, especially if the quality of the data is a consistent
At a clinical level the results obtained are specifically oriented to therapeutic intervention. At a community or population level, a descriptive display or a more
complex analysis of the results will be helpful for a
better understanding of the reality and for decision making process that will contribute to the improvement of
Correspondence: Javier Aranceta
Community Nutrition
PO Box 5199. 48080 Bilbao (Spain).
E-mail: [email protected]
the nutritional and health status of a particular community. In this regard, the active collaboration of people
who can benefit from the proposed improvements will
always be needed, especially considering the possible
application of those improvements comfortably to the
objectified reality1 (figure 1).
Fig. 1.—Uses and applications of results of Food and Nutrition
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Here are presented the different levels of practicality distributed in strategic areas:
1.National Surveys such as Food Balance Sheets,
Household Budget Surveys (INE)2, studies of the
food shopping basket and consumption at home
or away (MAGRAMA)3,4, or the annual data on
sales obtained from the Central Markets of different Spanish cities (MERCASA)5.
2.Health Surveys at a National or Country level that
embody data on food intake, anthropometric measurements, characterization of physical activity,
alcohol and tobacco consumption and other matters related with health.
3.Representative surveys of different groups (children, school age youth, elderly or general population) driven by the Public Institutions such as PERSEO6, ENALIA7,8 and ALADINO9 among others,
or by Scientific Societies in collaboration with
private industries such as ANIBES (Assessment of
Energy Balance, Anthropometry and Food Intake
of the Spanish population) or the ENPE study (Nutritional study of the Spanish population).
4.Total Diet Studies that estimate the average intake of potential contaminants according to the
average values of the Spanish diet or across the
different countries that compared with the values
of the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) allow stable
control policies and recommendations from AECOSAN10 and other scientific organizations11,12
for the general and most vulnerable population
groups ).
5.Food Policy. Food and nutrition policies are
drawn from the information provided by various
kinds of dietary surveys along with other social
and health indicators. Production strategies, food
imports, food regulation and fortification programs would be included under this heading.
6.Nutrition Education Programs. Educational plans
included in the education system and in the community environment to facilitate changes towards
a more balanced, varied and healthy diet. The
data obtained by identification of nutritional risks
will help to formulate specific contents for future
7.Environmental Policy. Environmental improvement and an appropriate legislative framework
can redirect to better food profiles and lifestyles.
The health system, education system and environments are the key for the improvement and
maintenance of healthy behaviours, promoting
the availability and accessibility of those foods
whose consumption should be enhanced as well
as the ability to implement a more active lifestyle.
8.Surveillance systems for agricultural production
and plant environment. The Normalized Difference
Vegetation Index (NDVI). Also the environmental
impact and sustainability of food production, food
safety and consumption should be prioritized.
Contribution to Community Nutrition
In addition to the analysis of food and beverage
consumption habits, physical activity and maybe other
related factors are assessed in order to evaluate the situation and/or the effectiveness of interventions aimed
at modifying behavioral characteristics for a better
food profile, a more active life style and reduce sedentarism. Tools are also used to measure the intake of
specific nutrients, specific aspects of the diet or even
the general profile in longitudinal epidemiological studies, case-control studies or randomized trials contexts
to investigate the association between exposure to nutritional or dietary factors and health outcomes13-17.
In food surveys and cross-sectional studies, the assessment of the current intake can detect deficiencies,
groups at risk and determinant risk factors, leading to
evidence based scientific documents or nutritional standards that can be used by professionals from both health
and education fields. They provide high value and interesting information for the formulation of nutritional
policies and health policies and for other relevant areas.
1.Current food intake description, food models and
determinant factors.
2.Trend analysis. Evolution of food intake. Ecological postulates.
3.Food Transitions, of great interest for the immigrant population.
4.Nutritional surveillance programs.
5.Food security programs.
6.Food hygiene programs.
7.Research methods of diet-health-nutritional state.
We have mentioned the application of nutritional
studies for the development or review of nutritional
standards as well as to support or confirm the evidence, if the conditions for applying the scientific method
were met. Undoubtedly, well-designed nutritional studies with large enough subjects and long enough periods of observation that include dietary exposure indicators, biomarkers of nutritional status and adequate
health outcomes measured using the appropriate methodology, as well as the relevant procedures for data
analysis, are essential to arise the scientific evidence
that supports the development of some key documents:
1.Nutritional standards, of weight characterization
or of reference values for biochemical, haematological or immunological indicators18.
2.Development or update of Nutritional Objectives as a technical document for the prevention of
chronic diseases and health promotion.
3.Development or revision of Dietary Guidelines
for the population as instructive document that
eases up the compliance of nutritional goals; from
science to the plate.
4.Development of community level guidelines for
physical activity by age and gender, for the wor-
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kplace or the health-institution settings. Moreover, soon enough, personalized physical activity
prescriptions may become a reality in all health
care settings19.
5.Collaboration with the food industry to achieve improved formulation of the processed products and
the launch of new products of interest for health.
6.Use of specialized media to inform and create
awareness of the available evidence, the detected
reality and the actions for improvement considered the most appropriate each time for the general
population or specific groups.
In conclusion, nutritional studies are an indispensable tool for health promotion. They should be coordinated from public institutions to prevent the proliferation of studies of limited nature that just means a
financial expense and a major effort that do not provide the objective of a sustainable common interest.
The implementation of a periodic nutritional survey
in Spain, similar to the NHANES projects, is a pending issue in our country that will hopefully be solved
shortly, taking into account in its foundation the major
studies that have been conducted in recent years by
various institutions and research groups.
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