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 (e.g. both low and middle income countries and affluent societies) and throughout the stages of life. Epidemiologists 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.
In the specialisation Nutritional and Public Health Epidemiology the areas of nutritional epidemiological research and public health nutrition are covered. Both address the aetiology and prevention of diseases, with specific reference to diet, nutrition and lifestyle.
Nutritonal epidemiological research 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. It 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 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). It has close relationships with methods and theories from psychological, social, economic, agriculture and political research.
In conclusion, this specialisation addresses the design, implementation, analysis and interpretation of epidemiological research, both interventional and observational. It focuses on the aetiology 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.