Mccance & Widdowson’s Tables of Food
Introduction Food composition tables are absolutely basic tools for the work of the dietitian and the human nutritionist. Every dietary prescription is built on the data in the food tables. Every study of the relationship between diet and health depends on the use of food tables to calculate nutrient intake. It is essential therefore that those who use the tables fully understand how they are compiled and what are their limitations. Food tables need to re? ect the foods eaten in the culture in which they are to be used, in terms of the types of foods and their origins.
Where used to analyse dietary intake data, recipes that re? ect the local cultural patterns are an additional requirement. As agricultural and food manufacturing practices change, the food tables need to evolve to keep up with them. In the UK we are fortunate in having an excellent set of food tables. They have evolved over a period of now nearly 60 years and there is a continuing rolling programme for updating. However, this does mean that the tables exist in several editions. Users need to understand when each edition appeared and how each differed from its predecessors.
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They need to know which edition has been used to analyse a given study. If embarking on a reanalysis of old data they need to choose the most appropriate version. If embarking on analysis of a new study, they need to use the most recent data. If buying nutrient analysis software they need to know which version of the tables are built into the programme, whether the writers of the software will provide regular updates as new data become available and whether the package has facilities for the user either to add new foods or to update old ones. This paper brie? reviews the evolution of the UK food tables and seeks to clarify some confusions that have appeared in recent years. First and second editions of McCance and Widdowson McCance and Widdowson’s Tables of Food Composition evolved from early work by R. A. McCance. In 1925 he was given a grant by the Medical Research Council to study the amount of carbohydrate in foods used in the treatment 1 Correspondence: Dr Alison E. Black, Medical Research Council, Dunn Clinical Nutrition Centre, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2DH, UK. © 1999 Blackwell Science Ltd 2 A. E. Black and A. A. Paul t the point of consumption. They included published data mainly from the third edition of McCance and Widdowson, information from manufacturers, the nutrient composition of a substantial number of recipes calculated from data in the third edition and experimentally determined moisture loss, and a limited number of special analyses carried out by the Laboratory of the Government Chemist. The DHSS tables went through several versions. The ? rst (pilot 1963) version was re? ned for the second (1967) version by dropping items not used and adding some found to be necessary.
A third (1969) version was essentially a rearrangement and renumbering of the foods items in the second version. The food tables remained unpublished but were readily available and widely used by those conducting dietary surveys in the 1960s and 1970s. A quick way to identify which set of tables has been used in the coding of any particular survey is to look at the Code Number for a frequently used food. The codes numbers for ‘milk, ordinary’ for example in 1963, 1967 and 1969, respectively, were 7104, 701 and 008. of diabetes. Later he conducted studies in particular on the composition of eat (McCance & Shipp, 1933) and fruit and vegetables (McCance et al. , 1936). The ? rst edition of the food tables (McCance & Widdowson, 1940) was compiled from data mainly from these early studies and also included some recipes. A second edition published in 1946 (McCance & Widdowson, 1946; Widdowson, 1961) included more of the important wartime and post war foods, but was otherwise little changed. The third edition of McCance and Widdowson The third edition of McCance and Widdowson (McCance & Widdowson, 1960) was the ? rst one familiar to many dietitians still practising.
It was published in 1960 and expanded on the earlier editions (Widdowson, 1961) by including values for vitamins and amino acids. The former were drawn mainly from a thorough search of the literature and the latter from a combination of literature data and new analyses. A wide range of basic foods was covered in this edition including many new analyses, but a only a limited number of recipes were incorporated. Code numbers ranged from 1 to 663, but total entries numbered 797 as many entries for ? sh, fruit and nuts included both an entry for edible portion and an entry for the food weighed with nonedible waste (skin, bones, cores, shells).
These used the same code number with and without the suf? x a. An account of this revision was given to the British Dietetic Association by Dr Widdowson herself in 1960 (Widdowson, 1961). The fourth edition of McCance & Widdowson (MW4) The fourth edition of McCance and Widdowson’s food tables was published in 1978 (Paul & Southgate, 1978). The principles used in compiling this edition were fully set out in the general introduction to the tables, which is essential reading for dietitians. This was a major revision with approximately two thirds of the data being updated by new analyses or literature values.
There was extensive consultation with dietititans and many new foods were added (Southgate & Paul, 1978). This edition included more recipes than the third edition, but nevertheless not as many as the DHSS tables. Code numbers range from 001 to 969. There are two true supplements to the fourth edition of McCance & Widdowson in that they contain data additional to MW4 and are not revisions of MW4 data. These are: 1 First supplement to MW4 (Paul et al. , 1980). Amino acids and fatty acids per 100 g of food. © 1999 Blackwell Science Ltd, J Hum Nutr Dietet 12, 1–5 The DHSS Food Tables
During the 1960s and 1970s the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) embarked on a series of national surveys of different sections of the population using 7day weighed diet records. Molly Disselduff (from the DHSS), the late Jean Robertson (from the MAFF) and Jean Marr (from the MRC) prepared a set of food tables for analysing these surveys. Known as ‘The DHSS Food Tables’, these were set up to cope with food as reported McCance & Widdowson’s Tables of Food Composition The foods listed and their code numbers are the same as in MW4. 2 Second supplement to MW4 (Tan et al. , 1985). Immigrant foods.
This supplement contains foods selected from MW4 with code numbers as in MW4, together with many additional items given codes in 5000 series (5001–5237). These items were later incorporated into the revisions of MW4 and thus these data have all been superseded. 3 Revisions of the fourth edition of McCance & Widdowson After publication of the supplement on immigrant foods, MAFF, in association with the Royal Society of Chemistry, embarked on a staged revision of the whole of the fourth edition of McCance & Widdowson. The revision has been completed and published in sections, taking each of the major food groups in turn.
Although not so designated, these ‘Nine Supplements’ effectively constitute the true ? fth edition of McCance and Widdowson. The table below lists the nine supplements, the code numbers used in each and the reference with date of publication. The most recent supplement in the series covers fatty acids (MAFF, 1998). Food code numbers are retained as in the revisions 1–9 above, any new foods being assigned numbers within the appropriate food group. The so-designated ? fth edition of McCance and Widdowson (MW5) The single volume compilation of selected items that was published as the Fifth Edition f McCance and Widdowson (Holland et al. , 1991b) has caused much confusion. Many have thought it to be a complete revision of the fourth edition. It is not. It is a limited compilation of data selected from the food tables available at the time of publication. It contains data from the ? rst four revised sections, namely cereals, milk, vegetables and fruit (Revisions 1–4 above). These still remain the most recent published data. For the remaining food groups, however, the data were taken from the fourth edition of McCance and Widdowson.
Thus the data for ? sh, meat and miscellaneous foods in MW5 came from MW4 and are now out of date as they have been superseded by subsequent revisions (Revisions 5–9 above, known as the supplements to the ? fth edition). This publication (MW5) is still widely used, particularly by students, since, as a single volume, it is more convenient and cheaper than the ‘Nine Supplements’. However, it is essential to recognize (i) that it does not contain the complete set of data available and (ii) that a large part of the data is not now the latest available data.