Research Sections - Groups

Nutrition and Metabolism -  Dietary Exposure Assessment Group

Current Research Topics:

DEX conducts research projects in the following domains:

Methodological research activities and their applications in nutritional studies research

A focal point in methodological research of the DEX Group is to develop and validate methods to standardise dietary data collection, processing and analysis in large international multi-centre studies. This, among others, involves the development, maintenance and refinement of a highly standardized 24-hour dietary recall programme (EPIC-SOFT®) and the implementation of a comprehensive web-based platform, the EPIC-SOFT Methodological Platform (still under development), for enhanced use and dissemination of the EPIC-SOFT®-methodology in international nutritional studies.

EPIC-SOFT® is used, tested and validated in various international projects for both epidemiological and monitoring research purposes, such as EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort, http://epic.iarc.fr), EFCOVAL (European Food consumption validation - in adults, http://www.efcoval.eu), PANCAKE (Pilot study for the Assessment of Nutrient intake and food Consumption Among Kids in Europe - in children) and IDAMES (Innovative Dietary Assessment Methods for Epidemiological studies and Public Health, http://www.idames.eu), with specific focus on innovation in international dietary assessment methodology. In addition, DEX is also contributing to implement the EPIC-Soft methodology as reference instrument in the future possible pan-European monitoring survey (“EU-Menu project”) coordinated the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), EFSA (http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/datex/datexeumenu.htm). Further recent and current activities also include the development of new dietary assessment tools, including standardised nutrient databases (EPIC Nutrient Database Project, ENDB), data entry versions of EPIC-SOFT®, further country-specific EPIC-SOFT®-versions and the evaluation of innovative technically-based dietary assessment instruments.

Different projects conducted within existing projects involve the validation of dietary exposure using different nutritional biomarkers, with a particular focus on biomarkers for industrial food intake (energy density, glycaemic index/glycaemic load, specific biomarkers such as industrial trans-fatty acid and acrylamide) in collaboration with the Biomarker Group.

Research activities on changes in dietary exposure

In order to improve the understanding and interpretation of diet as a complex multi-factorial exposure, the DEX group develops/adapts, applies and disseminates new methods for analyzing dietary patterns (particularly nutrient and dietary biomarker patterns) to be used in descriptive and diet-disease association studies and for deriving public health nutrition guidelines. This research is performed through an established network of statisticians. As a first step, important methodological investments have been made to adapt existing multivariate analyses for applying them in the specific contexts of international studies, beside in-depth descriptive analyses on nutrient intakes and nutrient patterns using a unique set of standardized and detailed 24-hour dietary data available in EPIC. Different studies on nutrient patterns and diseases outcomes (cancer, diabetes, obesity) are already ongoing.

Other research activities

As an integrated part of the NME section, DEX also has current research projects to improve description of dietary folate intake and its main food sources among European populations and better understanding of the role of dietary folate in relation to cancer risk, and contribute to other diet and cancer projects within the section. In addition, underlying social factors that impact dietary exposure intake and pattern, such as the socioeconomic position, are planned to be integrated in future research activities on cancer risk.