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About NESR
(formerly NEL)

The staff at Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review (NESR), formerly the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL), specializes in conducting food- and nutrition-related systematic reviews. NESR systematic reviews are research projects that answer important public health questions by using rigorous and transparent methods to search for, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize the body of scientific evidence on topics relevant to Federal policy and programs.

Who We Are 

what we do

The NESR is a team of scientists from USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) who have expertise in systematic review methodology.

We hold advanced degrees in subjects like nutrition sciences, dietetics, public health, epidemiology, psychology, and/or library science. Our team has extensive training and experience in reviewing and synthesizing food and nutrition-related research.

We collaborate with expert groups to review the state of the science on various nutrition and health topics.

These expert groups include nutrition scientists, physicians, dietitians, epidemiologists, methodologists, and/or end users of a review who are from within and outside of the Federal government. Our Methodology page provides detailed information on the roles and responsibilities of the team involved in conducting our systematic reviews.

What We Do

woman highlight papers

The NESR team uses rigorous, protocol-driven methodology to conduct systematic reviews that answer important public health-related food and nutrition questions.

NESR systematic reviews are research projects that answer a clearly formulated scientific question by searching for, evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing nutrition evidence. Our Methodology page explains what a systematic review is, and how we conduct our systematic reviews.

NESR’s work supports CNPP’s mission to improve the health of Americans by developing and promoting dietary guidance that links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers.

NESR’s systematic review methodology promotes scientific integrity. Because of its evidence-based approach, NESR’s work helps uphold the Data Quality Act, which mandates that Federal agencies ensure the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information used to form Federal guidance.

One of NESR’s priorities is to ensure that each systematic review is transparent and accessible to the public. We publish all completed reviews, in their entirety, on our website.

  • Want a snapshot of a NESR systematic review? 
    • Plain language summaries provide an overview of each review using concise, non-technical language for a range of reader.
    • Technical abstracts provide a short, structured, technical summary of each review to help readers quickly determine the overall scope, methods, and findings of the review without having to read the entire report.
  • Want all the details about a NESR systematic review? 
    • Full systematic reviews provide complete documentation of each step of the review process, including details about the methodology, the full description and synthesis of the evidence, and conclusion statements and grades. 

Another priority of NESR is to engage a range of individuals and groups, from within and outside of the government, who offer important perspectives, throughout the process of conducting reviews, including:

  • Expert Groups: Scientists, clinicians, methodologists, educators, and/or end-users who assist NESR with reviewing the state of the science on nutrition and health, commonly in groups of either a Federal Advisory Committee, such as a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, or a Technical Expert Collaborative.
  • Federal Stakeholders: Federal staff, including scientists, nutritionists and other programmatic experts, who identify review topics and questions to address gaps in guidance and program knowledge.
  • The Research Community: Researchers and Federal agencies who leverage research recommendations identified in the review process to conduct or support research that informs Federal guidance and programs and advances nutrition science.
  • The Public: Individuals and organizations (e.g., consumers, researchers, students, industry professionals, members of the media, state/local government officials), who provide written and oral comments on Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reviews.


hands on keyboard

In 2007, CNPP developed a concept for an electronic database to serve as a repository of summaries of individual studies on diet and health.

The intent was for this database to be used to help inform updates to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years. However, at the same time, systematic reviews were emerging as a more rigorous, protocol-driven basis than individual studies for scientific consensus statements, clinical and public health guidelines, public health policies and programs, and research priorities.

CNPP recognized the importance of systematic reviews, and therefore, evolved the original database concept. The “Nutrition Evidence Library” was launched in October 2008 as a team of staff who specialized in conducting systematic reviews. The team supported the 2010 and 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committees, and completed additional projects to inform Federal food- and nutrition-related programmatic initiatives, such as the Dietary Patterns systematic review project, released in 2014.

In 2019, CNPP changed the name from Nutrition Evidence Library to “Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review” or NESR. The purpose of this name change was to communicate that NESR is a team of professionals who specialize in conducting systematic reviews on food- and nutrition-related topics, rather than a library that collects, houses, or conducts original nutrition research. 

Today, NESR exemplifies CNPP’s commitment to providing the Federal government and the public high-quality and transparent scientific reviews on diet and health - with a particular focus on disease prevention - to help inform dietary guidance and federal nutrition programs.