Publication Details

Clancy, A. K., Woods, K., McMahon, A. & Probst, Y. (2015). Food composition database format and structure: a user focused approach. PLoS One, 10 (11), e0142137-1-e0142137-14.


This study aimed to investigate the needs of Australian food composition database user's regarding database format and relate this to the format of databases available globally. Three semi structured synchronous online focus groups (M = 3, F = 11) and n = 6 female key informant interviews were recorded. Beliefs surrounding the use, training, understanding, benefits and limitations of food composition data and databases were explored. Verbatim transcriptions underwent preliminary coding followed by thematic analysis with NVivo qualitative analysis software to extract the final themes. Schematic analysis was applied to the final themes related to database format. Desktop analysis also examined the format of six key globally available databases. 24 dominant themes were established, of which five related to format; database use, food classification, framework, accessibility and availability, and data derivation. Desktop analysis revealed that food classification systems varied considerably between databases. Microsoft Excel was a common file format used in all databases, and available software varied between countries. User's also recognised that food composition databases format should ideally be designed specifically for the intended use, have a user-friendly food classification system, incorporate accurate data with clear explanation of data derivation and feature user input. However, such databases are limited by data availability and resources. Further exploration of data sharing options should be considered. Furthermore, user's understanding of food composition data and databases limitations is inherent to the correct application of non-specific databases. Therefore, further exploration of user FCDB training should also be considered.

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