NCC News | Fall 2014


Using NDSR Output Data to Calculate a Healthy Eating Index (HEI)-2010 Score

With the addition of solid fats to NDSR 2014 it is now easier to use data in NDSR output files to generate the variables needed to calculate HEI-2010 scores. The HEI-2010 is a scoring system developed to measure overall diet quality. Index points range from 0-100, with a higher score indicating a diet more consistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.


NCC has put together a guide to assist users in creating the variables needed to calculate HEI-2010 scores. (Guide to Creating Variables Needed to Calculate Scores for Each Component of the Healthy Eating Index-2010).


This guide is most relevant to those using NDSR 2014 or a subsequent version of the program. We hope you find it useful, and as always feel free to contact User Support at if you have questions.



Easily Calculate Total Medium-Chain Fatty Acid (MCFA) Intake

In recent years there has been burgeoning interest in studying the health effects of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). NDSR includes each individual MCFA (SFA 6:0 (caproic acid), SFA 8:0 (caprylic acid), SFA 10:0 (capric acid) and SFA12:0 (lauric acid)). Consequently, their individual effects may be studied using NDSR data.

If you’re interested in studying the health effects of total MCFA intake, simply sum estimates for these individual fatty acids using your output files* and the formula below:


SFA 6:0 (caproic acid) + SFA 8:0 (caprylic acid) + SFA 10:0 (capric acid) + SFA12:0 (lauric acid) = Total MCFA


*Total MCFAs can be calculated using output files forcomponent/ingredients (Output file 01), specific foods (Output file 02),Meals (Output file 03), and intake properties total (Output file 04). Total MCFAs can also be calculated for User-recipe totals (Output file 05) and Menu totals (Output file 06). Make sure that headers are included before generating output. To include headers click the Preferences button in the Project Information window and under the User Preferences tab checkinclude column headers in output files.



Brand Name and Non-Branded Foods

In our recent client survey we received numerous requests for brand name foods. Currently, the NCC Food and Nutrient Database contains over 7,000 brand name products. Although we strive to be as complete as possible and we plan to add some of the foods requested, it is not feasible to add every requested food. How does NCC decide when to include brands and which brands to include? What are the implications for users? Read on to learn the answers to these questions.


Typically brand name products are included for a food product category if there are significant differences in the nutrient composition of the food product by brand. For example, different brands of potato chips are included in the database because ingredients like oils differ across brands, and consequently fatty acid content may differ by brand. For some food product categories brands are included because consumers generally refer to the food by brand (e.g. Oreos) rather than a generic descriptor (e.g. sandwich cookie). When NCC chooses name brands to include in the database we aim for brands that are generally nationally or regionally popular. We also evaluate sales statistics published in food industry journals and input from NDSR users to help guide us in determining popularity. For food product categories that do not include brands (e.g. canned vegetables, canned fruit, nut butters, etc.) non-branded products are options in the database.


Non-brand foods are included in all food product categories in the NCC Database and may be a good option if the brand a participant reports consuming is not in NDSR. Non-brand foods may be a reasonable choice because they often include food detail questions designed to accurately capture the nutrients in the food. For example, if a participant reports eating a brand of vanilla yogurt not included in the database a non-branded ‘vanilla yogurt’ may be selected, and food detail questions such as sweetener type (regular or artificially sweetened) and level of fat (whole, reduced fat, etc.) will guide you through to help create a similar match.


In cases where the food detail questions do not capture a particular nutrient claim (high fiber, low sodium) it may be necessary to mark it as a missing food and refer to Appendix 8 in the User Manual to determine the best course for how to appropriately handle the food.


As a reminder it is important to review with your study staff your protocol on handling brand name foods not found in NDSR so that consistency can be maintained between study staff throughout the study period.


We are here to help, so if you have questions regarding branded and non-branded foods please contact NCC User Support at



Ask NCC: What is the difference between output files and backup files?

NDSR output files are tab-delimited text files that provide the variables you’re apt to need for your study analyses (e.g. total daily nutrient intake estimates, eating occasion information, Food Serving Count intake estimates, etc.). Several output files are provided so that food and nutrient intake may be examined at multiple levels (e.g. nutrients per food; nutrients per meal; nutrients per day) and by source (food vs. dietary supplements). For more information about the content of the output files refer to Chapter 8 of the NDSR User Manual.


NDSR backup files are a saved copy of all information captured within the individual record and exclude any nutrient calculations. It is highly recommended that you back-up your data regularly on the hard drive and in a location other than your hard drive (USB drive, network drive, external hard drive). In the event that your hard drive would fail, back-up files stored in an external location can be used to restore your original data. It is important to note that backup files cannot be used outside of the NDSR program and can only be opened by restoring them into NDSR. Backup files are also needed for existing data to be re-run through upcoming versions of NDSR to capture added nutrient fields and other features of the time-related database design. For more information about NDSR backup files refer to Chapter 9 of the NDSR User Manual.


To tell the difference between the two, look at the file name and contents:

  • Output .zip files are named with the project abbreviation plus the letter “d” (e.g. Samplestudyd.txt). After the .zip file is extracted, each of the individual output files are named for the project abbreviation followed by a number (00-21) that indicates the type of file available for the data set.
  • Backup files are also saved as .zip files with the project abbreviation, but do not contain individually numbered files (e.g. comp.txt*). Each of the individual files in a backup .zip file will be designated with an asterisk.



Input Needed – NDSR Data Security

NCC is considering adding password protection features to NDSR, and we’re asking for input from users to better understand your needs.


Email us at or call Denise King at 612-626-9452 by Friday, October 10th to share your thoughts and ideas.



New Foods

The following foods are included in the NCC News Fall 2014 New Food Backup File, available for download on our website.

  • Cheerios Protein –Oats and Honey flavor
  • Van’s Gluten Free Totally Natural Waffles
  • Naked 100% Juice Smoothie – Green Machine
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers – Original Crackers
  • Ferrero Rocher
  • Dunkin’ Donuts Strawberry Coolatta
  • Dunkin’ Donuts Egg White Turkey Sausage Flatbread
  • Dunkin’ Donuts Egg and Bacon Wake-Up Wrap
  • Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Cereal – Mixed Berry
  • Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Straws

If you have questions about New Foods, contact Sue Seftick at or 612-624-0223.


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