Nutrition and Dietary Behaviors

NCI promotes new ideas and approaches to understand how complex behaviors in diet, physical activity, and sleep impact obesity and cancer prevention. From the individual, to the family, to an environmental health perspective, research on aspects of the home, food system, and built environment continues to be explored. NCI is applying a multi-faceted approach to the highly complex challenges in diet and health.

Projects and Initiatives


The Family Life, Activity, Sun, Health, and Eating (FLASHE) study is designed to help researchers understand lifestyle behaviors that relate to cancer risk. The survey questions mainly focus on diet and physical activity, with some items related to sleep, sun safety, and tobacco use. FLASHE is a cross-sectional, internet-based study that was conducted between April and October 2014 with parents and their adolescent child (ages 12-17). Survey data are publicly available and support individual and dyadic analyses.

Nutrition Research Committees and Working Groups

The NIH Nutrition Research Coordinating Committee aims to coordinate research within NIH and between other government agencies engaged in nutrition research and provides an open forum for members to discuss current and future research challenges and opportunities. 

The Nutrition Research Task Force was established to coordinate and accelerate progress in nutrition research across the NIH and guide the development of the first NIH-wide strategic plan for nutrition research, the 2020-2030 Strategy Plan for NIH Nutrition Research.

The Nutrition and Health Disparities Implementation Working Group seeks to advance NIH research to understand the interactions between diet, nutritional status, the environment, and biological and behavioral processes, and how they contribute to health disparities. It will also encourage research on how to prevent and treat nutrition-related diseases and reduce health inequities.  (Tanya is serving as co-chair)

Time-Restricted Eating

There has recently been growing interest in the area of time-restricted eating, a dietary strategy that restricts the amount of time an individual eats each day (i.e., 6-10 hours) but not the amount or type of calories consumed. In April 2019, the Health Behaviors Research Branch helped spearhead a time-restricted eating working group that has been engaged in several activities and initiatives.

Webinar: “Intermittent Fasting and Time-Restricted Eating: Implications for Biomarkers, Body Composition, and Cancer Outcomes” (March 2020)
Speakers: Dr. Satchidananda Panda, Dr. Dorothy Sears, and Dr. Courtney Peterson

Research Study: Four fellows from this time-restricted eating working group (Sydney O’Connor, Pat Boyd, Marissa Shams-White, and Caitlin Bailey) received an NCI Collaborative Research Award for Fellows in Training (CRAFT) in May 2020 to study current and former time-restricted eating dieters’ experiences and perspectives with this dietary approach. The research team completed Phase I of this mixed method study using an online quantitative survey to examine barriers and facilitators of adherence to time-restricted eating and describe individual differences between current and former dieters (i.e., personality traits, body mass index, sleeping patterns, etc.). Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted in Phase II to further identify barriers and facilitators of adherence to time-restricted eating. The research team is currently analyzing data from Phase I and Phase II.


National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance - Promoting U.S. Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables

The National Cancer Institute supports a healthy diet, which includes the consumption of fruits and vegetables as recommended by U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Through a public-private partnership between the NCI and Produce for Better Health (PBH) Foundation, national education and communication campaigns such as the National 5 – a – day for Better Health program (1991-2005) worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. health departments in all 50 states and U.S. territories and with the fruit and vegetable industry to increase the U.S. per capita daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.

From 2005 – 2016, the PBH Foundation and the CDC co-led the public-private partnership and campaign with the Fruits & Veggies – More Matters program, and with CDC’s Salad Bars in Schools program – in response to the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

In 2019, the PBH Foundation launched a new education program, Have A Plant® which replaced “Fruits & Veggies—More Matters” in response to consumer research about recommendations related to eating a certain amount of fruits and vegetables each day.

USDA MyPlate

MyPlate is a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help communicate the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans into information for the general public. MyPlate offers ideas and tips to help individuals create a healthier eating style that meets their specific needs and improves their health.

Funding Opportunities

Title Announcement # Expiration Date Contact
Exploratory Grants in Cancer Control

More Information
PAR-21-341 (R21 Clinical Trial Optional) October 09, 2024 Mukesh Verma

Tanya Agurs-Collins
Dietary, Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior and Sleep Assessment Methodologies Among Infants and Young Children (Birth to 5 years) through Adults NOT-CA-21-108 May 8, 2023 Kirsten Herrick
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Stimulating Research to Understand and Address Hunger, Food and Nutrition Insecurity NOT-OD-22-135 November 29, 2024 Tanya Agurs-Collins

Data and Tools

National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) Measures Registry

Assess diet, physical activity, and the environments in which these behaviors occur through this searchable database of diet and physical activity measures.

National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) Catalogue of Surveillance Systems

Access over 100 publicly available datasets relevant to childhood obesity research, including health behaviors, outcomes, and determinants, and policies and environmental factors.

Accumulating Data to Optimally Predict Obesity Treatment (ADOPT) Core Measures Project

This project identified a standard set 50 core measures, or factors, that can be analyzed across studies to better understand the variation in response to obesity treatments.

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Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour (ASA24®) Dietary Assessment Tool

Use this free, web-based tool to collect multiple, automatically coded, self-administered 24-hour diet recalls and/or single or multi-day food records.

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Classification of Laws Associated with School Students (CLASS)

Use data from this website to compare state laws on nutrition and physical education between states and policy changes over time.

Learn more about CLASS

Diet History Questionnaire (DHQ)

Use this free food questionnaire with adults 19 or more years of age to assess food and dietary supplement intakes.

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Family Life, Activity, Sun, Health, and Eating (FLASHE) Study

Understand the lifestyle behaviors that relate to cancer risk with this collection of psychosocial, generational, and environmental survey data.

Learn More About the Study

Food Attitudes and Behaviors (FAB) Survey

Access the instrument, references, and analytic guide for a survey developed to evaluate a variety of factors that may be related to fruit and vegetable intake among adults.

View The Survey

Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS)

Study various aspects of health communication in the U.S. with these publicly available data about the public’s use of cancer-related information.

Obtain HINTS Data

Healthy Eating Index (HEI)

Use this scoring metric to determine overall diet quality as well as the quality of a range of dietary components.

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The Interactive Diet and Activity Tracking in AARP (IDATA) Study Data

Access these data for studies of physical activity and nutrition.

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National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Cancer Control Supplement (CCS)

Use this continuous, nationwide survey on a broad range of health topics as a source of U.S. data for monitoring health patterns and trends, as well as tracking progress toward national goals.

Learn More About The Survey

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

View data and publications from a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States using both interviews and physical examinations.

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Evidence Based Cancer Control Programs

This searchable database of evidence-based cancer control programs provides program planners and public health practitioners easy and immediate access to programs tested in a research study, publication(s) of the study findings, and program materials used with a particular study population in a specific setting.

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2020-2030 Strategic Plan for NIH Nutrition Research: A Report of the NIH Nutrition Research Task Force: A Report of the NIH Nutrition Research Task Force

Last Updated
September 22, 2022