Novel technology-based dietary assessment methods use volume estimates of foods to assess dietary intake. However, the nutrient content of standard databases is based on food weight. The goal of this study is to evaluate the accuracy of the United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (USDA-SR) estimates of volume and the corresponding macronutrient content of the foods. The weights of 35 individual food volumes were measured (on trial) and compared to the USDA-SR-determined weight for the food volume. Macronutrient content corresponding to the trial weight and the USDA-SR weight for the food volume (USDA) were determined using the USDA-SR, and the differences were calculated. There were statistically significant differences between the USDA and trial weights for 80% of foods measured. Calorie estimates by USDA weight were significantly lower than that of trial weight for 54% of foods but were significantly greater for 26% of foods. Differences in macronutrient estimates by trial and USDA weight varied by food type. These findings suggest that nutrient databases based on food weight may not provide accurate estimates of dietary intake when assessed using food volumes. Further development of image-assisted dietary assessment methods which measure food volumes will necessitate evaluation of the accuracy of the processes used to convert weight to volume in nutrient databases.
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