Foods that we eat and their relationship to health

Subject intake data

A typical Candat scenario

The navigation shown below is a good example of the navigation available throughout CANDAT. You will get used to using the function keys, particularly the keys “F6”, “F5”, “F1” and “Esc”.

Modules and tasks

The first to appear once Candat is started is the TASK MODULES screen. It contains a list of the modules available in CANDAT. Within each module is a list of tasks, each prefixed with a task number. For example, in module 3. Subject files… you will get a series of 300 level tasks. These tasks are related to subject entry, validation, reporting, etc… but all tasks that have to do with subjects.

You will see 300 related tasks in module 5. Questionnaire definition and input. That is because some of those tasks work with questionnaire data once it has been converted to subject files. Just an added convenience if you happen to be working with questionnaire data.

For now, choose the Subject module so that we can enter a simple recall to see how CANDAT works.

Subject files maintenance and reports

Subject file maintenance

This is where subject data is entered, on a per day, per meal basis. You can also configure general information about this subject file here.

Once you have started the task you may choose a user food file to activate. As you enter food codes this will allow CANDAT to automatically validate foods that may not be in the Master food file or Institute food file.

The next step allows you to select an existing subject file or create a new one.

We have chosen to create a new subject file which we have called “demo”, for the purposes of this tutorial. Please note that subject files can hold an unlimited number of subjects.

When first created we need to know whether this subject file will be used for questionnaires. Questionnaire subject files have a few more components to them. These can also be added later if you wish.

Up to 25 subject variables can be created per subject. This is where you define what those variables are. The variable names will serve to identify the data on reports.

This menu shows you what can be done with subject files. A bit overwhelming at first but necessary as your study evolves and you need to manage more and more of your data. For now we will just concentrate on entering subject recall data.

Candat allows up to 10 characters for a subject code. We have tried to make this a bit meaningful, as you can probably see from the characters. This can also be another place for you to classify the subjects. You must, however, make sure that the code you create is unique.

This is where you would populate the variable data that you defined before. Note that the definitions are specific to the subject file though the variable data changes from subject to subject (of course).

…and now we are able to enter actual food recall information, up to 7 days per subject. Specify the date using yyyymmdd coding. The date is important as Candat uses it to figure out the day of the week in “week-weighted” reports.

This is the main data entry screen for food data. You can also change the date here. A convenient way to navigate this screen is through the tab key and the arrow cursor controls. The “F6” key is especially convenient:

  • in the Meal Code field it will give you a selection of valid meal codes (note that you can define your own meal codes, up to 999 or them!)
  • in the Food Code field it will allow you to search foods. It will insert the code of the food you choose
  • in the Unit Code field it will give you a list of valid units for that food and insert the code of the one you choose

    All you have left to enter is the Quantity. The Food Frequency field is not used in recalls, it is meant for questionnaire data.

The next few screen pictures will show you data at various stages as well as detail information of your input you can see by pressing the “F1” key.

This screen shows a few foods entered for a breakfast. The highlighted area shows the foods that were entered. It was generated by pressing the “F1” key on the date field. It could also have been generated by pressing the “F1” key on the Unit Code field. Pressing the “F1” key on the other fields will translate the code for the information it generates. For example, if pressed on the “1” under Meal Code, it would show “Breakfast”, if pressed on the food code “28730” it would show “Coffee Brewed”.

How do you know which codes to enter? You just use the “F6” key. The “F6” key pressed in the Meal Code field would give you a list of valid meals (the list you defined if you did that). By selecting the meal you wish the code is automatically inserted. Under the Food Code field “F6” generates the same search it did in the Food Profile area above. The selected food has its code inserted. “F6” in the Unit Code field lists all the units valid for that code. Again, selecting the desired unit inserts its code in the right place and generates the description.

Experiment a bit, add a few more code, fill in the day. When you are done simply press Esc to be prompted for another day of entry.

You can continue entering intake dates until you have the maximum of 7 per subject or you can stop at this point by entering a “0” for the date.

A “0” date will bring up the subject editing menu where you can perform other actions on this subject.

When you are done simply press the Esc key repeatedly until you reach the menu to choose another task:

At this point the prompts become intuitive. In a big study we would do a lot of data entry, perhaps even by multiple data entry clerks. Their subject files could be combined, all the data validated using tasks 310 and 330, the nutrient data compiled and reports produced using task 340.

The validation from task 310 is shown here… if we had made entry errors they would appear in the last column. This validation is also a good way of checking against your entry data to make sure the right foods were coded and none were missed.

and then we simply skip to task 340 to show you some of the possible ways of reporting.

Toggle the Options to Yes for those you would like to see in reports. There are many ways of setting your options.

  • “Ctrl Y” selects them all to “Yes”,

  • “Ctrl N” selects them all to “No”,

  • “Y” make a “Yes”

  • “N” makes “No”

  • Just pressing “Enter” changes an entry back and forth.

For this example we will choose them all, “Ctrl Y”

…and press Esc to go to the next screen.

This allows us to select the nutrient we wish to see in the report.

We can add as many nutrients as we wish, pressing “F6” (standard now) on a code field allows us to choose nutrients we want to add. This process is shown below.

Here we have added LUTEIN, nutrient 837, you should see it in your reports, along with the others.

You can also choose to view other data in your reports, you can see the expressions and ratios we have chosen here…

The next few prompts allow you to select the subjects you wish to analyze and other reporting options such as printing, files to save, etc… they are explained below;

As you use Candat the above 4 screen shots will be very familiar to you. They are the standard selection sequence of database records, whether they be subjects (as they are here) or foods, recipes or questionnaires, the main databases used in Candat.

You can choose to sort by one of your selected nutrients, in this case we will leave the first nutrient, protein, as our sorting nutrient. Note that if you sort by nutrient and you view your reports at the food detail level, the foods will not be in the order entered but in the order of the selected nutrient value.

A nutrient report title which will appear on your printed reports…

In Candat you can define your own food groups. Food groups you define are stored in “category” files, each category file containing a list of food groups defined for that category and each food group containing a list of foods. Pressing “F6” here gives you a choice of available category files. Candat comes with the Canadian and USA category files pre-defined.

In this case we will bypass the category file selection by pressing Enter. This will have the effect of cancelling the reporting by food groups we previously selected.

The next few screens ask us for the name of the files to store the results. You can use the same name for each, very convenient as the same name can represent a particular part of your study or some particular purpose for the report, as here, “demo”

At this point Candat produces all the reports, ends the task and provides you with this friendly reminder.

You can then proceed to Start the task again (if you want to produce reports with other options) or choose another task.

View Reports

Of course, once you reach this stage you will probably press the “F5” key to look at your results. We go through this with you in the screens beginning on the next page.

Pressing Enter here lists all the text files (.TXT) and, in this case, gives the only file there.

The menu below is presented when you press the slash (“/”). You can then choose one of the presented options to manage the selected file.

This is the printed results file that was generated by Candat. For the columns to line up properly in external programs the font must be a fixed font, for example Courier New.

This file can be opened with a word processor or a text editor and printed from there if needed. Most of the time these files are not printed. We recently examined a file of 82 subjects and it had over 3,600 pages. That file included each food and showed detail by subject, by day and by meal with a meals summary at the end of each day and a days summary at the end of each subject.

In specifying default printers for CANDAT you can use a printer driver that creates .pdf files directly. This is very convenient as CANDAT allows you to specify very large page sizes which can be viewed in landscape (sideways) mode. If you do not have a .pdf printer driver you can still create this very large .txt file and then convert it using freely available .txt to .pdf converters. One that we have found very useful can be found at

You can then use your favorite pdf reader application to easily browse through all the data.

You scan the .txt or the .pdf files to verify that the data you needed has indeed been generated. Once you are ready to use the data you can access it directly through the files in the SAVE folder. Those files can be imported directly either into a spreadsheet program or in a statistical program. Please see the next pages for examples of those files.

Once you have viewed the text files, you can proceed to the “save” files, the files that you can use to import your data into other programs.

Pressing Enter here give you a list of the save files generated by Candat.

Notice that the name of these files are the names we specified when we ran the reports. Some of these files document the layout of the data so that it can be provided to external programs that require that layout.

Most programs today will accept delimited files. Candat uses the “tab” character as a delimiter. The first row of these “tab-delimited” files contains a variable name which corresponds to the data in the following rows. You can change these variable names in three ways, if desired:

  • within Candat by changing the short description of the nutrient names;

  • by using an editor and changing the first row of the data file;

  • within the program you are using to view the data, using the features of that program (in spreadsheets you would change the first row, in statistical packages you would change the variable names).

The following pages are screen captures from these files and show what the information looks like. Remember, these files are formatted for computers to read, they may look a bit strange to you.

Some of the following files are wider than a screen. In Candat you view them by using the Ctrl-{arrow-right} key. In this case we have just done a screen capture of each screen that came up as we scrolled to the right. Remember, these files are meant to be used by computer programs.

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This file has 25 fields, the first 10 only are shown here. No data was input after the weight field.

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The DEMO.TXW and DEMO.WTD files look like the above DEMO.TXS files and are not reproduced here for simplicity. They would be different if there were multiple days in the week and some of the days in the week included weekend days as well.

I am sure that when you enter your own data and start looking at these reports you will get a good feeling for how thorough and accurate they really are.

A small aside but important note: You will notice that some of the values in the reports are negative. These are missing values generated by foods that did not have values for particular nutrients. In totals they are counted as zero. Statistical software usually treats missing values differently than regular values and take them into consideration in some calculations.

This concludes the “getting started” tutorial. By now you should have acquired the keyboarding skills required to get your information into and out of Candat and be sufficiently confident to explore the other areas of Candat.

Remember we are here to answer each and every one of your questions. Candat is the calculation engine that generates your data. You can now use whatever software you wish to complete your analyses and present or publish your data.

If you have any difficulties with the software please contact us and let us know. It is the only way we can help.