Public Health 101: Nutritional Epidemiology

Public Health 101: Nutritional Epidemiology

Course Description
Diet plays a central role in the pathogenesis of most major causes of morbidity and mortality in men and women. 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 dietary assessment, dietary determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations, and the public health application of this research. This nanocourse is intended for individuals who are interested in understanding the overall process of dietary assessment to public health recommendations and in learning more about the use of dietary variables in their research.

HMS/HSPH PhD students eligible for credit, please register at the bottom of this page. ALL OTHERS wishing to attend the course, please register through the google form (

Learning Objectives - Upon completion of this nanocourse, participants will be able to:

Day 1:
•Understand the methods for assessing the dietary intake of populations and individuals
•Describe studies on specific diet/disease relationships, analyze and interpret nutritional epidemiology literature
Day 2:
•Gain hands-on experience in the actual collection, analysis and interpretation of dietary intake using publicly available online software
•Design nutritional epidemiology studies examining diet-disease relationships.

Course Instructors: Sylvia Ley, PhD, RD (; Elinor Fondell, PhD; Changzheng Yuan, MD, Sc.D; Laura Harrington, PhD, MPH
Curriculum Fellow: Bradley Coleman,
Course Director: Eric Rubin MD, PhD

Session Dates and Times:
First Session: Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 1:00 – 4:00 PM (TMEC 227)
Second Session: Thursday, August 24, 2017, 1:00- 4:00 PM (TMEC 333)

Session I:
Intro: Nutritional epidemiology: Dietary Assessment, diet-disease relationships and public health recommendations
1.What is diet and how do we measure it?
•Diet – food, nutrients and dietary patterns
2.Current topics in diet and disease – how important is a healthy diet?
3.Dietary assessment methods and nutrient data base
•Nutrient and diet validation
4.How to interpret nutritional epidemiology studies
•Adjusting for diet in other types of studies
Example: From research to public health recommendations and policies
1.Public health nutrition recommendations and research
•Investigating diet quality using different dietary patterns
2.Implication of public health recommendations and policies, global perspectives, and strategies for diabetes prevention

Session II:
Practice I:
•24-hour dietary recall data collection demonstration
•Analysis and interpretation of dietary intake using USDA Supertracker
•Types of food; Additions to food; Method of preparation; Brand names
Practice II:
•Group exercise to design a study to explore the relationship between diet and disease
•Hypothesis; Select dietary assessment method; Choose a study design; Analysis plan