The essential role of food composition databases for public health nutrition – Experiences from the Netherlands

Elsevier, Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Volume 101, August 2021
Ocke M.C., Westenbrink S., van Rossum C.T.M., Temme E.H.M., van der Vossen-Wijmenga W., Verkaik-Kloosterman J.
Public health nutrition is the promotion of nutrition-related health of populations. This paper aims to show the essential role of food composition databases for public health nutrition using examples from the Netherlands, and to point to gaps and needs for the future. Food composition databases play a role in the Assessment, Analyses and Action phases of public health nutrition. An important activity in the Assessment phase is the identification of nutrients for which intake is too low or too high. Moreover, food composition databases are needed to Analyse the dietary problems; for example to identify the main food sources of nutrients for which intake is too high. In the Action phase, food composition data are among others used to inform consumers about the nutritional content of foods. Gaps and needs for food composition databases are related to the rapidly changing food markets and to new nutritional and health interests. ICT developments and the availability of branded food databases provide new opportunities and challenges. Additionally, there is a need for continued improvement of international harmonisation of food composition databases to enable international research and comparisons. In conclusion, national food composition databases are essential for public health nutrition. A constant effort is needed to keep them up-to-date and of good quality.