Dietary patterns and cardiometabolic risk

Contact persons: Dr. Franziska Jannasch, Dr. Elif Inan-Eroglu, Dr. Florian Schwarz, Daniela Nickel

A Mediterranean diet with vegetables, fruits, olive oil and Co can lower the risk of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. (Photo: sonyakamoz/clipdealer)

The investigation of different methods of dietary pattern analysis is a main field of our research. Here we link our projects on cardiometabolic risks with the DIfE focus on "food choice and dietary behaviour". Dietary patterns can be derived from food consumption data in observational studies using various methods. A priori approaches describe the extent to which individuals follow a recommended diet. Therefore, prior knowledge about possible advantages or disadvantages of certain foods is needed in order to calculate corresponding indices. Exploratory approaches, such as principal component analyses, form patterns on the basis of existing intercorrelation between foods and are therefore suitable for characterising population-specific dietary patterns.

We investigate associations between dietary patterns and chronic diseases and could thus show, for example, that risk associations of population-specific dietary patterns can be replicated in other populations. As part of the NutriAct nutrition cluster, we were able to further characterise how stable dietary patterns are over time and quantify consequences of changes for health risks based on the EPIC-Potsdam study. In addition, we are working on the identification of individual but also interpersonal determinants of dietary patterns (NutriAct family study).

Within the DFG research group TraceAge, we are investigating the hypothesis that trace element profiles are associated with the development of chronic diseases and reduced physical performance in old age on the one hand, and are determined by dietary patterns on the other. The trace elements selenium, zinc, copper, manganese, iodine and iron have been suspected for some time to be involved in the pathogenesis of important age-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Our previous research has also shown that the way food information and healthy eating patterns are operationalised in studies is very different. We will pursue this issue in two ways. First, as a partner in the JPI HDHL consortium Dietary DEAL, we will contribute to the development of an open-source tool for assessing dietary patterns by systematically evaluating indices of dietary quality. In addition, we are leading the work in the NFDI4Health consortium to harmonise and standardise dietary (pattern) data for research in epidemiological studies in Germany.


Individual Projects

  • Trace element status during aging in the EPIC-Potsdam study, DFG-Forschungsgruppe TraceAge, DFG
  • Dietary DEAL, EU (JPI HDHL)
  • NFDI4Health, DFG