History of Nutrition: The Long Road Leading to the Dietary Reference Intakes for the United States and Canada
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The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) are reference values to guide the planning and assessing of nutrient intakes in the United States and Canada. The DRI framework was conceptualized in 1994, and the first reports were issued from 1997–2004, based on work by expert panels and subcommittees under the guidance of the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. Numerous conventions, challenges, and controversies were encountered during the process of defining and setting the DRIs, including the definition of the framework, the use of chronic disease endpoints, lack of data on requirements for children and youth, and methods for addressing nonessential bioactive substances with potential health benefits. DRIs may be used to plan and assess the nutrient intakes of both individuals and population groups, but the new paradigm particularly improved methods used for groups. It is now possible to estimate both the prevalence of inadequate intake and the prevalence of potentially excessive intake within a group. The DRIs have served as a potent influence on national nutrition policies, including those related to dietary guidance, food labeling, nutrition monitoring, food assistance programs, and military nutrition standards. Because of this important impact on nutrition policy, the DRIs must be based on the best possible and most up-to-date science. Unfortunately, no updates to specific DRIs are currently planned. Despite the long and challenging road that led to the current DRIs, it must not finish in a dead end. Monetary resources and political will are crucial to maintaining and continuously updating the DRIs.
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