The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s (USDA) Interagency Committee on Human Nutrition Research (ICHNR) has released the first Nutrition Research Roadmap designed to guide federal nutrition research. The 2016–2021 National Nutrition Research Roadmap encourages an increased focus on research that can lead to more individualized advice for promoting health and preventing disease.
The Roadmap is the result of more than a year of interagency collaboration through the ICHNR and integration of public comments. Representatives from the following departments and agencies developed the Roadmap: Dept. of Health and Human Services, USDA, Dept. of Defense, Dept. of Commerce, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Veterans Health Administration, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“Nutritional needs differ according to a number of factors, including an individual’s age, their health status, and their level of physical activity,” said Catherine Woteki, ICHNR co-chair, USDA chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education, and economics. “Those needs can be tailored according to personal preferences, enabling each person to choose the foods that are right for them. The priorities outlined in the Roadmap will help us identify knowledge gaps and research opportunities that can help consumers make healthy choices.”
By mapping out priorities for the future, ICHNR seeks to encourage more effective collaboration among their agencies as well as with government, academia, and the private sector. The Roadmap identifies three key questions that cover a broad spectrum of research:
- How do we better understand and define eating patterns to improve and sustain health?
- What can be done to help people choose healthy eating patterns?
- How can we develop and engage innovative methods and systems to accelerate discoveries in human nutrition?
The Roadmap emphasizes addressing research gaps concerning nutrition-related chronic diseases and health disparities, particularly for at-risk groups such as pregnant women, children, and older adults. It gives special consideration in understanding the role of nutrition for optimal performance and military readiness.