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Nutrition Informatics Blog

What IS Nutrition Informatics?!

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Perhaps it best to start with the present definition of nutrition informatics posed by the ADA Nutrition Informatics Work Group in 2007, and approved by the House of Delegates.

"The effective retrieval, organization, storage, and optimum use of information, data, and knowledge for food and nutrition related problem solving and decision making. Informatics is supported by the use of information standards, information processes, and information technology”.
(ADA Nutrition Informatics Work Group, 2007)
Adapted from the definition of biomedical informatics in Biomedical Informatics by Shortliffe & Cimino Springer Science & Media 2006

You might have noticed I described it as the “present” definition. As this field rapidly evolves, it is likely the definition will as well. Technology and the way we use information continues to be nudged forward by innovative thinkers.

During the past three years, ADA has supported significant discussions on this topic: Open Space Sessions at the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE), informatics presentations at a host of venues, and the Nutrition Informatics Work Group, who were the minds that over three years assimilated most of the groundwork for what we need to accomplish. Most importantly, the group worked in tandem with many great staff and other committees at ADA to assure that the goals established were in line with the mission and work of ADA. To all those who served in this capacity, thank you! Please help us further refine what nutrition informatics is all about!


I am currently working on a multidisciplinary PhD in information studies and nutrition. I have discovered that information studies is a very broad topic. The definition that the ADA has created covered the information access and systems of information, which includes knowledge organization, information systems, information retrieval, and human-computer interaction.
However, what I think is missing is the area of information services, which is the study of information and its impact on society. In my program we devote a great deal of time looking at how effective and relevant the provision of societies’ information agencies are in reaching the consumer of that information. We also analyze the information policies and ethics that are involved with providing the information. I think that this part of informatics in nutrition is also critical since nutrition information and misinformation pervades the landscape around us. A perfect example of this is the Smart Choice front-of-package label. No policy existed by the FDA and so a group of organizations that included food and beverage manufacturers, created this easy to recognize mark – that found its way on foods like Lucky Charms cereal.
I have been working on my PhD for several years now and am glad to see that nutrition informatics is becoming an interest for others. When I tell people in the field what I am doing, they usually ask – What is that? Maybe now, that will stop.
Jodi Wright MS RD
Posted by: Ivonne Cueva_1 at 5/18/2010 1:45 PM


Hi Jodi,
I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Very good point on information and the impact on society. This is exactly the kind of discussion we need--so we can explore all of the opportunities that nutrition informatics brings. Particularly with so many forms of "information" reaching societies--be it print, video, text messages or blogs (!), great potential for interaction and change is there. Please continue to share your thoughts.
Lindsey
Posted by: Lindsey Hoggle at 5/19/2010 8:05 AM


I agree with Jodi's comments regarding consumer information and misinformation. It should be part of the discussion. I am also recognizing that we need to reach consumers/clients in different responsible ways other than the traditional outpatient appointment. In my reading to attempt to keep up with HIT and informatics, I came across a paper about the impact and potential impact of SmartPhones on consumers and healthcare providers. I thought it was interesting. Hope it is OK to share the link.
Donna Quirk
http://www.chcf.org/publications/2010/04/how-smartphones-are-changing-health-care-for-consumers-and-providers
Posted by: Ivonne Cueva_1 at 5/25/2010 3:11 PM


Hi Donna,
Your point on reaching consumers/clients in different ways is exactly the direction dietitians need to go. If our patients use technology to monitor/manage their health, we need to embrace appropriate use of such tools, participate in the process and encourage consumer engagement. There is discussion that patients monitoring of their own health at home will help defray costs significantly. Please DO share information on consumer and professional use of technology! Visitors will need to copy and paste into their web browser. Thank you for your comments.
Lindsey
Posted by: Lindsey Hoggle at 5/26/2010 9:49 AM


I'm finishing a second MS in clinical informatics and patient centered technology. This summer I'm taking a course in patient centered technology. I can say that smart phones and other tools are already in use and the cost savings have been demonstrated. Other aspects related to home telehealth are satisfaction and care outcomes. The data is showing that home telehealth works, but only if done well and if sufficient support and training are provided. There are many, many creative ways to facilitate patient self-management.
Posted by: Pam Charney, PhD, RD at 7/1/2010 10:12 PM


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