Specific objectives

We consider 7 specific objectives best reflecting the general objectives and the strategic focus of the project:

  1. to collect information on state of the art instruments and methodologies for high quality measurements of dietary intake including alcohol use that have been used for epidemiological and public health studies in Europe.
  2. To investigate the different aspects of physical activity, energy expenditure and physical fitness regarding their relevance for chronic disease risks by linking with the ALPHA-project on physical activity.
  3. to evaluate whether innovative technologies can help to apply more precise assessment tools of dietary intake in large-scale epidemiological studies and public health.
  4. to conduct secondary analyses in existing data sets from prospective cohort studies of adult European populations with different socio- cultural backgrounds and methodological approaches and instruments to measure diet of individuals with a particular focus on feasibility, participation rates, and obtained results.
  5. to extract best practice assessment instruments and methodologies of diet for large-scale epidemiological studies and public health from the state of the art evaluation and the evaluation of innovative technologies.
  6. to conduct pilot studies to test the feasibility of the selected new generation methods to assess diet and to evaluate their application and cost under field conditions in various European settings, and
  7. to provide Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) on new, improved, and feasible instruments and methodologies for the assessment of diet including alcohol in individuals to be applied in the European Union and other places and to be used by scientists and other stakeholders in public health.

Indicators chosen

Specific Objective Assessment of results Quantifiable indicators
Objective 1, to collect information on state of the art instruments and methodologies for high quality measurements of dietary intake including alcohol use and physical activity One journal article, one report of 10 pages minimum, website Peer review
Objective 2, to investigate the different aspects of physical activity such as kind of activity, energy expenditure and physical fitness by linking with the Alpha-project Participation in meetings of the ALPHA-project Activity report
Objective 3, to evaluate whether innovative technologies can help to apply more precise assessment tools for dietary intake SWOT-analysis to be carried out, leaflet of 4 pages minimum Internal peer review
Objective 4, to conduct secondary analyses in existing data sets from prospective cohort studies of adult European populations for dietary assessment tools with a particular focus on feasibility, participation rates, and obtained results One journal article minimum Internal and external peer review
Objective 5, to extract best practice assessment instruments and methodologies of diet for large-scale epidemiological studies and public health from the state of the art evaluations and the evaluations of innovative technologies Scientific presentations, Leaflet of 4 pages minimum Internal and external peer review
Objective 6, to conduct pilot studies to test the feasibility of the selected new generation methods of diet and to evaluate their application and cost under field conditions in various European settings One journal article Internal and external peer review
Objective 7, to provide SOPs on new, improved, and feasible instruments and methodologies for the assessment of diet including alcohol use in individuals one document of 5 pages minimum, leaflet of 4 pages minimum Internal peer review

Rationale and relative merits of the project

Standard assessment tools that had been developed 15 years ago for use in large-scale prospective studies to provide individual data on dietary intake including alcohol use and physical activity such as food frequency questionnaires with portion size information and questionnaires for specific self-reported physical activities, had been criticized not to discriminate sufficiently between individuals and to generate estimates that are imprecise and biased in terms of measured quantity.

Despite many groups validated their instruments before use such as the EPIC-study (established in 1992-1994) and improved the dietary measurement by using a standardized 24-hour recall as calibration instrument, it is claimed that some of the recent conclusions from large-scale prospective cohort studies, for example that fruit and vegetable consumption is not related to risk of most cancer sites or that intake of saturated fat is not related to risk of breast cancer, could be due to the inability of the measurements to correctly rank participants by dietary intake level. Imprecision of the measurement instruments could also result in improper identification of vulnerable groups and inequality. Given that few large randomized clinical trials are available in the area of diet and risk of chronic diseases, particular cancer, the findings from large-scale prospective cohort studies provide the highest evidence for measures of public health policy at the Community and at the national level. Therefore, more advanced methods with higher discrimination power between individuals with different intake levels or levels of physical activity are urgently needed. The usage of more refined and quantitative methods to assess diet including alcohol use and of technical devices to measure physical activity could be considerably facilitated in terms of workload for the participants as well as for the researches if new information technologies such as web based tools or innovative communication facilities (e.g. photo cell phones) are applied in large-scale epidemiological studies.

New generation methods being applied in existing and upcoming large-scale epidemiological studies and other public health settings will generate the basis of knowledge on which the public health policy of the community can better rely on. From our point of view, it is a generic task of the public health program of the European community to establish the basis for efficient public health measures by financially supporting initiatives aiming at identification of best methods to be applicable in epidemiological and public health studies across and within various countries of Europe. The current proposal needs co-funding by the EU because it is far exceeding national perspectives and could not be done otherwise.

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Topic revision: r4 - 2007-05-29 - HerbertPiechot
 
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