The EAR Cut Point Method

In most situations a cut-point method using the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) may be used to estimate the prevalence of inadequate intakes. This cut-point method is a simplification of the full probability approach of calculating the prevalence of inadequacy described by the National Research Council (NRC, 1986). The cut-point method allows the prevalence of inadequate intakes in a population to be approximated by determining the percentage of individuals in the group whose usual intakes are less than the EAR for the nutrient of interest. This method assumes that the intake and requirement distributions are independent, an assumption that is not valid for the energy requirements addressed in this report because energy intakes are highly correlated to energy expenditure. The cut-point method further assumes that the variability of intakes among individuals within the group under study is at least as large as the variability of their requirements. This assumption is usually warranted in free-living populations. Finally, it assumes that the requirement distribution is symmetrical. This is thought to be true for all of the macronutrients discussed in this report.

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