Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2010;50(Suppl 1):1-8
Abstract: The interpretation and integration of epidemiological studies detecting weak associations (RR <2) with data from other study designs (e.g., animal models and human intervention trials) is both challenging and vital for making science-based dietary recommendations in the nutrition and food safety communities. The 2008 IAFNS “Decision-Making for Recommendations and Communication Based on Totality of Food-Related Research” workshop provided an overview of epidemiological methods, and case-study examples of how weak associations have been incorporated into decision making for nutritional recommendations. Based on the workshop presentations and dialogue among the participants, three clear strategies were provided for the use of weak associations in informing nutritional recommendations for optimal health. First, enable more effective integration of data from all sources through the use of genetic and nutritional biomarkers; second, minimize the risk of bias and confounding through the adoption of rigorous quality-control standards, greater emphasis on the replication of study results, and better integration of results from independent studies, perhaps using adaptive study designs and Bayesian meta-analysis methods; and third, emphasize more effective and truthful communication to the public about the evolving understanding of the often complex relationship between nutrition, lifestyle, and optimal health.
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Supported by the IAFNS Committee on Food and Chemical Safety, Committee on Carbohydrates, and Committee on Dietary Lipids.