CB 399:Public Health 101: Nutritional Epidemiology Spring 2014

Public Health 101: Nutritional Epidemiology

Curriculum Fellow: Zofia Gajdos, Zofia_Gajdos@hms.harvard.edu

Course Instructors: Dr. Jessica Smith, Dr. Liana Del Gobbo, Dr. David St. Jules, Mercedes Sotos Prieto

Diet has central role in the pathogenesis of most major causes of morbidity and mortality in men and women today. Consequently, research investigating diet-disease relationships has important public health implications; however, studying food consumption and diet patterns has unique challenges. This nanocourse is focused on nutritional epidemiology, the study of the distribution of usual intake, and dietary determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations, and the application of this research. This nanocourse is intended for individuals who have a background in epidemiology, and are interested in learning more about the use of dietary variables in their research.

LEARNING OUTCOMES - Upon completion of this nanocourse, participants will be able to:

•             describe the approaches and important considerations of dietary assessment.

•             analyze and interpret nutritional epidemiology literature.

•             design nutritional epidemiology studies examining diet-disease relationships.


 Title: Understanding the Link Between Diet and Disease: Nutritional Epidemiology

Session I: Intro: What is nutritional epidemiology and why is it useful?

Hour 1: Evolution in our thinking about diet and disease

              i. Major discoveries and breakthroughs

             ii. The deficiency paradigm: micronutrient deficiency and disease

            iii.  Malnutrition: Undernutrition

Hour 2: Where are we now?

              i. Current topics in diet and disease

             ii. Shift away from the deficiency paradigm: towards diet quality and dietary patterns, and prevention of chronic diseases

            iii.  Malnutrition: Obesity and related cardiometabolic diseases

Hour 3: Why do we do this research, and where are we going?

             a.) Policy development/public health implications

             b.) The future: key unanswered questions

Homework- select a publication from a provided list of current manuscripts which highlight a key debate or important finding in the field of nutritional epidemiology and prepare a presentation detailing:

a) what is previously known on the topic,

b) objective/design/methods of the paper

c) results

d) implications, and what this paper adds to the literature regarding the debate/advancement of thinking on the topic

e) strengths and weaknesses of the study

Session 2: Methodological considerations for nutritional epidemiology

Hour 1-2: Methods used in Nutritional Epidemiology

            a) Overview and validation of diet assessment methods

            b) Correction for measurement error

            d) Strengths and limitations in current dietary assessment methods 

            e) Independent and mediated effects of diet on chronic disease

            f.) The future: improving our methods

Hour 3: Journal club group presentations and discussions


First Session: Thursday, May 8, 2014 1:30 – 4:30 PM
Location: FXB G13
Second Session: Thursday, May 15, 2014 12- 3 PM
Location: Kresge 213


DROP DEADLINE: Thursday, May 1, 2014