Reducing the disease burden and improving the quality of life
Typically, epidemiologists exploit the natural variation in large groups of people, from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds (developing countries, affluent societies) and throughout the stages of life. They have a keen interest in reducing the disease burden and improving the quality of life in such populations and specific risk groups. This way, epidemiology strengthens the understanding of health maintenance and disease aetiology, and it helps to quantify the impact of public health interventions on individual and environmental outcomes.
Students specialising in Epidemiology and Public Health can choose between two variants: Nutritional epidemiological research, and public health nutrition. Both address the aetiology and prevention of diseases, with specific reference to diet, nutrition and lifestyle.
Nutritional epidemiological research
The nutritional epidemiology variant focuses on expertise and competences in the design, conduct, analysis and interpretation of epidemiological research, interventional and observational, both in the clinical domain and in free living population groups. Key health outcomes and pathophysiological processes relate to energy balance and overweight, diabetes, cardiovascular disease risk factors and malignancies. This variant is closely related to clinical research and causal inference in the biomedical domain, relevant to underpinning public health interventions in dietary patterns and life style.
Public health nutrition
The public health nutrition variant focuses on expertise and competences to translate evidence from epidemiological research to public health policies and health promotion programmes, both at the local, national and international level. It addresses the design, organisation, implementation and evaluation of intervention programs addressing the individual lifestyle (e.g., behaviour, food choice, physical activity, well-being) and/or societal context (policies, legislation, food supply and reformulation, work, school, housing, media). This variant has close relationships with methods and theories from psychological, social, economic, agriculture and political research.
This specialisation addresses the design, implementation, analysis and interpretation of epidemiological research, both interventional and observational. It focuses on the etiology and prevention of diseases, with specific reference to diet, nutrition and lifestyle. Central issues are assessment of exposure, risk factors of disease, intermediate health stages and analysis and interpretation of major study designs.