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Highlights from the March 2008 Journal of the American Dietetic Association

American Dietetic Association

The March 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association contains articles and research studies you may find of interest. Below is a summary of some of this month's articles. For more information or to receive a copy of a Journal article, e-mail

How Do Dietary Guides Match Up?

Since advice about what to eat for optimal health has evolved over time with advances in nutrition science, dietary recommendations are sometimes seen as contradictory. However, a review of three leading dietary guides by researchers at the National Cancer Institute found their essential recommendations are consistent despite the different methodologies used to create the guides.

The NCI researchers compared recommendations and nutrient values of the United States Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid; the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's DASH Eating Plan and Harvard's Healthy Eating Pyramid. The study showed that, even though the guides were derived from different types of nutrition research, they share consistent messages: Eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains; eat less added sugar and saturated fat; and emphasize plant oils.

Recommendations are similar regarding almost all food groups for both types and amounts of foods people should eat. Primary differences were seen in the types of recommended vegetables and protein sources and the amount of recommended dairy products and total oil. Overall nutrient values were also similar for most nutrients, except vitamin A, vitamin E and calcium.

The researchers conclude: "The evidence base for optimal diets continues to evolve. However, inherent in these guides is a pattern of eating that focuses on nutrient-rich foods and limited calories from added sugar and solid fat."

Connections between Chronic Disease and Supplement Use

With cancer survivors increasingly turning to complementary and alternative medicine to manage the short-term and long-term effects of their conditions, a study from the National Cancer Institute concludes that having a chronic medical condition such as cancer is the primary factor in a person's decision to use dietary supplements.

The researchers studied records of more than 9,000 people. They found adults with cancer or other chronic conditions were more likely to use supplements than people reporting no illness.

According to the researchers, cancer was most closely associated with use of vitamins, while people living with other chronic conditions tended to use a wide variety of supplements.

"A diagnosis of cancer by itself does not have an independent effect on supplement use," the researchers write, adding that most supplement use among cancer survivors appears intended to prevent or lessen related conditions.

The researchers conclude: "These results indicate that having a chronic medical condition is the major factor associated with supplement use.... Consumers and health professionals should be aware that there is limited information on the effects of dietary supplements taken concurrently with prescription and other over-the-counter medications."

Additional research articles in the March Journal of the American Dietetic Association include:

  • Using Biomarker Data to Adjust Estimates of the Distribution of Usual Intakes for Misreporting: Application to Energy Intake in the U.S. Population

  • Elevated Plasma Homocysteine and Low Vitamin B6 Status in Non-Supplementing Older Women with Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Relative Validity of the Iowa Fluoride Study Dietary Questionnaire and the Block's Kids' Food Questionnaire for Estimating Beverage, Calcium and Vitamin D Intakes by Children

  • Country of Birth and Language Are Uniquely Associated with Intakes of Fat, Fiber and Fruits and Vegetables among Mexican-American Women in the United States

  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Management of the Metabolic Syndrome

  • Probiotics and Prebiotics in Dietetic Practice.


The Journal of the American Dietetic Association is the official research publication of the American Dietetic Association and is the premier peer-reviewed journal in the field of nutrition and dietetics.

With more than 67,000 members the American Dietetic Association is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being. To locate a registered dietitian in your area, visit the American Dietetic Association at

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