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Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) are reference values that are quantitative estimates of nutrient intakes to be used for planning and assessing diets for healthy people. They include both recommended intakes and upper intake levels.

Although the reference values are based on data, the data are often insufficient or drawn from studies that had limitations in addressing the question. Scientific judgment is required in setting the reference values. 

  • EAR - Estimated Average Requirement - a nutrient intake value that is estimated to meet the requirement of half the healthy individuals in a group.
  • RDA - Recommended Dietary Allowance - the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all (97 to 98 percent) healthy individuals in a group.
  • AI - Adequate Intake: a value based on observed or experimentally determined approximations of nutrient intake by a group of healthy people.
    Used when an RDA cannot be determined.
  • UL - Tolerable Upper Intake Level - the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in the general population. As intake increases above the UL, the risk of adverse effects increases.

Heraclitus

One cannot step twice in the same river.

Overnutrition

Overnutrition, a type of malnutrition, is emerging with rates of obesity and related chronic diseases associated with urbanisation, aging populations, technological development and globalisation of food supplies and industry. Billions of dollars are spent annually by the food industry to promote the consumption of highly refined, high-calorie foods with little or no nutritional value. 

At least 35 million overweight children are living in developing countries and 8 million in developed countries. Children are increasingly exposed to high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt, energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods which tend to be cheaper than healthy foods. General imbalance in energy intake compared to physical activity levels is driving the obesity epidemic. In industrialised countries, child obesity risk is associated with lower household income, women with less education, and single parent households.

Obesity is increasingly prevalent among adolescent girls and women, as access to a greater quantity of inexpensive, tasty, and convenient foods increases. 

Taxation on high-calorie, low-nutrition foods can play a significant role in reducing the consumption of such products. Population-wide weight-control campaigns that raise awareness among medical staff, policy-makers and the public at large can also help to reduce obesity. Particularly important is the promotion of health literacy. Additional measures include restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy foods and sugary drinks to children, and controls on the use of misleading health and nutrition claims; mandatory front-of-pack food labelling helps consumers to identify healthier options. 

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