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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.

Methods used, references, significances

Objectives Work package Methodology Means
1) State of the art evaluation of assessing dietary intake WP 4 Literature review (use of literature data base Pubmed), expert (internal partner) reports, external expert advice key word definition, standardized display of search results in tables, requested reports from the partners, tabulated statements
2) SWOT analysis of new technologies for dietary assessment WP 4 Expert (internal and external) reports; selected according to needs of the project to understand new technologies Questionnaire to obtain the external expert's opinion, requested reports from the partners
3) Selection of new methodologies for dietary intake assessment for their use in new generation studies WP 4 Literature review, expert (internal) reports, scientific discussions among the partners, use of empirical data evaluation of reports, telephone conferences
4) Pilot testing of new methodologies of assessing diet in existing study populations WP 5 Design and conduction of a study Data collection using selected instruments and data analyses, in methodological aspects
5) Standard operating procedures (SOPs) WP 6 Drawing conclusions from literature review and empirical studies Analyses of the reports given by WP 4 - 5

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.

Main outcomes: benefits in detail

Deliverable No(numerical) Deliverable title Nature Confidentiality level Dissemination
D 1 Specific websites of the project Website Public Open for the public:
D 2 progress report to the EC 2007 Report Confidential
D 3 Final report to the EC Report Confidential
D 4 One leaflet on innovative technologies (SWOT analysis) and one leaflet on the state of the art evaluation Other Public Send to scientists, public health officials and public health politicians through e-mails and the website open for public
D 5 One leaflet about the SOPs Other Public Send to scientists, public health officials and public health politicians through e-mails and the website open for public
D 6 Final result dissemination workshop Conference Public Oral presentations at the 7th ICDAM (International Con-ference on Dietary Assessment Methods)
D 7 Evaluation report of the project Report Confidential
D 8 Workshop of WP 4 Other Public Workshop contributions will be made available at the web
D 9 Progress summary the state of the art evaluation measuring dietary intake for internal use Report Confidential
D 10 Report on the state of the art evaluation measuring dietary intake Report Public Through websites open for the public
D 11 Report on feasibility of selected instruments and methodology across European study populations Report Public Through websites and as printed material, e.g. journal article and document
D 12 Preliminary SOPs for pilot studies Guidelines Confidential
D 13 Final SOPs to be distributed Guidelines Public Through websites open for the public, Printed material as journal article and document
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Topic revision: r4 - 2007-07-17 - HerbertPiechot
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