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History of NAT - The Nutrition Analysis Tool

When Dr. Jim Painter was an undergrad in the mid 1970s at Southern Illinois University he became intrigued with the nutrient data that was being assembled by the USDA. New nutrient data sections were being added to Handbook #8 every few years. Nutrition students and health professionals who were interested in analyzing the nutrient content of foods had to look up food in tables, copy the nutrient data to a sheet of paper, and physically add up the amounts of each nutrient. This was tedious and sometimes inaccurate.

By the early 1980s crude computerized nutrient analysis software was available to those who had a personal computer. In the early 1980s he started a company called Nutrition Analysis Inc. It was ahead of its time and it received very little use.

In 1996 Chris Hewes and Dr. Painter developed the Nutrition Analysis Tool (NAT). Chris was the sole programmer on version 1 of NAT. By April of 1999 Nat was receiving close to 1,000,000 hits per month, representing interest from over 90 countries. By October 2001, NAT was receiving over 2,000,000 hits per month.

In 1998 a team of developers (listed below) began working on version 2 which was launced on-line in July of 1999. Version 2 includes more information on fast foods and specific brand name foods.

Technical Information: NAT uses tables extensively. NAT can be used with most browsers that do not support tables, but the visual results may not be what were intended.

Database Credits:
Main Nutrient Database: USDA Standard Reference
Ostrich Data provided by:

James Sales, Ph.D., Nutrient Composition of Ostrich Meat
Texas Agricultural Extension Service Ostrich Meat Industry
Other Data provided by Kraft Foods and Betty Crocker

Created by: Jim Painter Ph.D., R.D.
Programmer for version 1: Chris Hewes
Development Team for version 2: Jim Painter, Milind Basole, Jessica Clark, Mary Connors, and Becky Sabbert We welcome your suggestions and comments for future versions or additions to NAT. Contact us at NAT comments and questions.

NAT Disclaimer.
By using this tool, you agree that NAT shall not have any liability for any use or misuse of the information which you obtain from using NAT. The information provided through NAT is not meant as a replacement for the advice of a healthcare professional such as a physician or dietitian. Nutrition analysis is not an exact science, and while the creators of NAT have tried to make the information as accurate as possible, we make no representations that the information will be complete or accurate and accept no liability for any omissions or inaccuracies in the information obtained from NAT.

NAT Permissions Statement:
Nutrition Analysis Tool (NAT) was created as an aide for research and educational purposes. NAT and the information in NAT may be used free for non-commercial purposes.


The Nutritional Analysis Tool (NAT) and The Energy Calculator software were created at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by Dr James Painter.

NAT has received numerous awards and recognition since it was developed. The following are a few of the awards:

Featured on YAHOO!
Featured in magazines and journals such as:
Good Housekeeping
Bon Appetite
Featured on
The Diet Channel Top Pick for Food, Recipe and Diet Analysis Tools
Featured on Study Web & "StudyWeb Award"