About NCC

Who We Are




The Nutrition Coordinating Center’s mission is to support nutrition research and health promotion by providing state-of-the-art software and databases for assessing food and nutrient intake.



Primary Activities


NCC developed and supports Nutrition Data System for Research (NDSR), a dietary analysis software application widely used for the collection and analyses of 24-hour dietary recalls and the analysis of food records, menus, and recipes. Hundreds of researchers at institutions across the United States rely on NDSR (Client List) for an array of nutrition-related studies (Publications).


The NCC Food and Nutrient Database was developed and is maintained by NCC. The Database is well known for its comprehensiveness with respect to the number of foods in it and the nutrients for which composition information is available. Other unique aspects of it include high levels of completeness of nutrient values and ongoing additions and updates to foods and nutrients in it.


An array of services is available through NCC to support the needs of researchers. NDSR clients have access to telephone and online support from NCC User Support. A comprehensive training and certification program for instructing researchers and their staff on use of NDSR is available. NCC also offers 24-hour dietary recall collection and food record processing services. Many prominent studies have relied on NCC services (Study List).



Organization and Support


NCC is located in the Division of Epidemiology & Community Health in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Financial support for Center activities comes from a variety of sources including licensing and support fees for NDSR and the NCC Food and Nutrient Database, charges for services provided, and grant awards.



Leadership Team


Lisa Harnack, DrPH, MPH, RD
NCC Director
Kerrin Brelje, MPH, RD
NCC Director of Operations





Offering solutions to the challenges of dietary intake assessment for 40 years.


NCC was initiated in 1974 by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to support the food coding and nutrient analysis needs of two historically significant national collaborative research programs – the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT) and the Lipid Research Clinics (LRC). For these studies a mainframe computer-based food coding and nutrient analysis system was created by NCC in collaboration with NHLBI and outside experts in nutrition, statistics, computer science and education. This system was designed for in-house use, with NCC staff responsible for using it to code foods for nutrient calculation.


By 1977 NCC services were made available to other researchers studying the impact of diet and nutrition on various health conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, age-related eye disease, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome.


In 1988 NCC released Nutrition Data System (NDS), a DOS-based software program designed to provide a standardized interview and direct data entry for collection of dietary intake. For the first time, coding of foods and amounts was computerized providing immediate calculation of nutrient data. The software was developed for distribution to researchers for use on their computers. A user manual, technical support and training were among the services developed by NCC to support those using NDS.


Since 1988 NCC has worked to keep NDSR up-to-date with computer hardware and software advances, and dietary intake assessment methodological improvements. In addition, major expansion to the nutrients and foods in the NCC Food and Nutrient Database have been made to keep the database current with the ever expanding food marketplace and the growing number of nutrients and other food components of interest to researchers.


Today NCC continues to provide dietary intake assessment software and services, with these resources widely used for an array of research and health promotion activities.





Papers Published by NDSR Users
NDSR is used by researchers across the U.S. for an array of nutrition-related studies. Papers published in which the software is cited as having been used illustrate the widespread and varied application of this research tool. In 2016, over 350 scientific articles referenced the use of NDSR.
Publications Citing NDSR (2009-2017)


NCC Publications
A number of papers have been published describing NDSR and methods related to the development and maintenance of the NCC Food and Nutrient Database. References for these papers are provided in chronological order with links to abstracts and full texts provided where possible.
NCC Publications (pdf)