Dietary patterns and cardiometabolic risk

Contact persons: Dr. Franziska Jannasch, Dr. Maria Cabral

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 nutritional pattern analysis is a main field of our research. Here we link our projects on cardiometabolic risks with the DIfE research area on “Food choice and nutritional behavior”. Dietary patterns can be derived in observational studies from data on food consumption using various methods. A priori approaches describe the extent to which people follow a recommended diet. For this reason, prior knowledge of the possible advantages or disadvantages of certain foods is required in order to be able to calculate corresponding indices. Exploratory approaches, such as principal component analysis, form patterns based on existing intercorrelation between foods and are therefore suitable for characterizing population-specific dietary patterns.

We examine associations between dietary patterns and chronic diseases and as part of the Competence Cluster NutriAct. Our activities here include 1. the characterization of the long-term change in dietary patterns and their consequences for health risks based on the EPIC-Potsdam study and 2. the identification of individual but also interpersonal determinants of dietary patterns (NutriAct family study).

We also investigate within the DFG Research Unit TraceAge the hypothesis that trace element profiles are connected on the one hand with the development of chronic diseases and on the other hand are determined by dietary patterns. For some time now, the trace elements selenium, zinc, copper, manganese, iodine and iron have been suspected to be involved in the pathogenesis of important age-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Our preliminary work raises a number of methodological questions in dietary pattern analysis, which we will pursue in the future. We want to investigate the validity and reliability of dietary patterns, characterize pattern changes through several years of follow-up, and replicate associations of exploratory patterns with diseases via various prospective cohort studies in the InterConnect Network.


Individual Projects

  • NutriAct Cluster – Project 1: Dietary Patterns, BMBF
  • NutriAct Cluster – Projekt 2: Food Choices, BMBF
  • Trace element status during aging in the EPIC-Potsdam study, DFG Research Unit TraceAge, DFG