ODS Population Studies Program

Table of Contents



The Population Studies Program evaluates the use of dietary supplements by the U.S. population and specific population subgroups and the contributions that dietary supplements make to nutritional status. Research is focused on describing the use of dietary supplements, including specific supplements taken, amount consumed, and duration of use. This program uses data from nationally representative surveys and other large population-based studies to conduct research and characterize emerging issues such as changing patterns in use of these products. Staff also lead efforts to address methodological issues in assessing dietary and dietary-supplement intakes in epidemiological and other large studies.

Program Activities

  • Dietary Supplement Use
    • Characterizing supplement use in groups such as infants and toddlers, females of reproductive age, pregnant women, and older adults
    • Evaluating dietary supplement use in relation to demographics, lifestyle, health status, and disease risk
    • Estimating total nutrient intakes from all sources, including foods, beverages, and dietary supplements
  • Nutritional Status in the U.S. Population 
    • Monitoring vitamin D status  
    • Assessing iodine intake and status and identifying new biomarkers of iodine status
    • Evaluating intakes of folate and vitamin B12 and associated biomarker status
    • Investigating iron status of pregnant women and their infants
  • Methodological Issues in Assessing Dietary Supplement Use
    • Examining various food frequency questionnaires used in studies to compare how they assess dietary supplement use.
    • Analyzing how dietary-supplement use by lactating women may affect the nutritional composition of their milk in the Human Milk Composition study being conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services
  • Development and Use of Assessment Tools
  • Development and Use of Validated Biomarkers of Nutrient Exposure and Status
    • Working with a laboratory at the CDC National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) to develop new biomarkers of omega-3 fatty acids in blood and forms of folate in red blood cells
    • Working with the CDC NCEH to develop new tests for markers of inflammation and iron status, which may be used on archived samples of blood from infants and children from the National Children’s Study and new studies of infants in  NHANES. 
    • Collaborating with the CDC Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity to identify biomarkers of iodine status

Ongoing Collaborations

population map

The Population Studies Program interacts and collaborates with these federal agencies to carry out its work: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), Office of Disease Prevention (ODP), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Education and Training

The Population Studies Program will provide educational opportunities to individuals (such as summer internships) on methods to assess total nutrient intakes in large population-based studies that incorporate dietary supplement use.