TITLE: Nutrition.gov

ACCESS: http://www.nutrition.gov/

Nutrition.gov is an initiative of the U.S. federal government, however it is somewhat unclear which agency is actually responsible for the site. The introductory information indicates that the site is meant to serve as a portal to nutrition information across government agencies and that its development was spearheaded by Susan Blumenthal, M.D., U.S. Assistant Surgeon General.

There seems to be a strong connection between this site and the Department of Agricultures Food and Nutrition Center, but the relationship between the two sites is not explicit. In fact, at first glance, the purpose of this site seems to duplicate what can be found at the Food and Nutrition Center. Both sites are well organized, user focused, and provide access to an extensive collection of government nutrition resources. However, upon further inspection, it becomes clear that the focus of the two sites is quite different.

The aim of Nutrition.gov is more than simply providing access to nutritional information. The promotion of healthy eating and healthy living seems to be the underlying agenda of the site. The site's main focus is the prevention and control through healthy eating of a variety of health conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, eating disorders, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease. A review of the site's various subsections clearly supports this focus. The information found in "Food Facts," "Food Safety," "Lifecycle Issues," "Health Management," "Food Assistance," and "Research" all support the promotion of healthy eating and the use of food for preventing and/or managing disease. Of particular interest is "Lifecycle Issues," which presents specialized information for different segments of the population (infants, seniors, women). Although the site is intended to act as a portal, much of the information that has been incorporated into Nutrition.gov is valuable unto itself.

The intended audience for this site is any member of the general public wishing to learn more about how nutrition and healthy eating can contribute to their overall health and wellbeing. Even the research section points to consumer health information rather than reporting on original research findings.

The site bills itself as a "new federal resource," however there are few clues to indicate the currency of the information. No copyright, last modified, last reviewed or file saved data is provided. A more precise indication of the currency of the site would be welcome. The presentation of information on the site is straightforward and easy to use. The only multimedia component is the introduction page (requiring Flash), which is attractive, but adds no real value.

Overall, this site makes a good impression. It points to valuable, reliable, and readable sources and its overall focus is well-articulated. Its contents are particularly valuable to individuals looking for easy access to consumer health information related to nutrition and healthy eating. This site's greatest flaw however, is the fact that it is not entirely clear who is in charge of the site or how frequently they plan to update it.

Jennifer McKinnell
McMaster University
mckinn@mcmaster.ca


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