155. The Nutrition Detective: An Epidemiologist’s Investigation into Diet and Disease

Monday, October 28
8:00 AM – 9:30 AM
Location: 201-ABC
CE: 1.5
Level 3- Advanced
Activity Code: 151121

Course Tracks: Research and Standards

Interpreting epidemiologic studies of diet and disease outcomes is complex because it involves many methodological issues and sources of uncertainty. Indeed, anyone who tries to make scientific sense about the relationship between food and disease is faced with difficult problems of interpretation that arise from a combination of deep complexity and the well-known limitations of observational studies. The resulting uncertainty makes reliable scientific interpretation an even greater challenge for epidemiologists themselves, nutrition scientists, clinicians, public health officials, and regulators. Who, after all, is not aware of the “on again, off again” feature of specific recommendations that seem to emerge every week from the media’s interpretation of the latest epidemiology study?
The communication of scientific information is of fundamental importance to effectively evaluate current standards of practice, and inform public health policy, regulatory, political, legal, and ethical guidelines. However, the accurate and objective dissemination of scientific information is often compromised by numerous factors, such as researcher bias, methodological limitations, a lack of scientific knowledge, and fraudulent reporting of research findings, among other things.Topic areas, such as coffee intake and red meat consumption, will be used as examples to illustrate the challenges and complexities of investigating the diet-disease connection.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the challenges of studying diet and disease.
  • Identify the various study design tools (e.g., observational v. experimental) used to evaluate diet and disease.
  • Implement systematic review methodology approaches to draw conclusions on the totality of evidence across nutritional epidemiology studies.

Learning Need Codes:

  • 4050 Epidemiology
  • 9060 Research development and design
  • 9020 Evaluation and application of

Performance Indicator:

  • 11.1.2 Develops and implements evaluation tools and methodologies to test products and services.
  • 11.2.5 Reviews and evaluates science and evidence-based literature, to validate claims.
  • 4.1.2 Interprets and integrates evidence-based research and literature in decision making.


  • Dominik Alexander, PhD, MSPH

    Principal Epidemiologist