Department for public health nutrition

Department research aim:

Public health nutrition focuses on the promotion of good health through nutrition and the primary prevention of diet-related illness in the population. The emphasis is on the maintenance of wellness in the whole population (definition: Nutrition Society UK).
The Department’s aims are to improve health in Serbia through excellence in public health nutrition (PHN) research, and to become regional center for PHN research and training in the Balkans. It is done by working on research projects in partnership with leading European academic institutions and by establishing and conducting PHN capacity development activities in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

Research Methods:

Research methods in Department for public health nutrition (DPHN) are based on the most recent recommendations on best practice methods on assessment of population nutritional health as proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), International scientific bodies and resulting from the research projects funded by the European Commission (EuroFIR, EFCOVAL, EURRECA).

Nutritional assessment methods:

PHN  Commonly used Dietary intake methods: for individuals and population groups:

  • 24 hours dietary recall
  • Food frequency questionnaire
  • Dietary history
  • Nutrient intake assessment

PHN  Nutritional status assessment: of the population as based on anthropometric, physiological, clinical and biomarker parameters; evaluation is done by comparing observed values with international/national reference values (cut- offs) and standards. Biochemical parameters are used to validate data obtained from dietary methods, e.g. for folate intake .

So far, DPHN carried out several small-scale nutritional assessment surveys and intervention studies as part of national and international projects, e.g. to identify population subgroups at highest risk of poor nutritional health (CHANCE project). It is also to monitor and evaluate subgroups at highest risk of malnutrition (undernutrition and overweight).

PHN  Systematic literature reviewing of open access literature and collection and analyses of existing high quality grey literature written in national languages that report on nutritional health of the population in Central and Eastern Europe
Statistical analyses of the results on dietary intake and nutritional status is done according to established standards. Meta-analysis is used as strategy to answer research questions relevant to micronutrients intake and status in Europe.

PHN Reporting to national and international authorities about the results of research, and proposing strategies to improve nutritional health
PHN  Capacity development – identification of the nutrition challenges and needs, education and trainings to increase research competence of PHN practitioners in CEE
PHN  Creation of FCDB – EuroFIR harmonized compilation of Serbian/Regional food information from scientific sources & Traditional food recipes – collection and nutrient calculation
PHN  Translating research outcomes into practice by developing software tools for evaluation of nutritional intake and status
PHN  Recommendations and Nutrition planning
PHN  Nutrition promotion and public dissemination of knowledge in nutrition
PHN  Transfer of knowledge to food industry and SMEs
PHN  Nutritional tools-Softwares design and development

Achievement and results:

Capacity development in food and nutrition:

  • Capacity Development Network in Nutrition in Central and Eastern Europe, NCDNCEE-CAPNUTRA (www.agrowebcee.net/ncdn)
  • The first Serbian online food composition data base harmonized with EuroFIR recommendations
  • Balkan Food Platform with the 1st Regional online food composition data base harmonized with EuroFIR recommendations

Nutritional tools-Software applications:

  • Web based software application-Food Composition Data Management (FCDM) for creating new harmonized national/regional databases was designed and developed according to EuroFIR technical annex, standards and recommendations.
  • Nutri-RecQuest (EURRECA) is a user-friendly software web tool that allows easy access of data on current recommendations for 29 different micronutrients from 37 European countries, eight key non-European countries/regions as well as recommendations set by the European Commission and World Health Organisation/Food and Agriculture Organisation as well as general information about the source of these recommendations and scientific background information. This is a open data with an free access via: www.eurreca.org; www.serbianfood.info/eurreca .
  • Nutritional Planning (NutPlan), is a user friendly dietary software programme for implementing micronutrient recommendations with multiple functions (individual and group nutrition planning, recipe calculation, creating food labels, diet planning). This application is of particular interest for Eastern European and West Balkan countries, which currently lack dietary softwares.
  • Web tool for extraction of data on nutritional adequacy (intake and status) and its determinants (EURRECA)-was created for the collection of the data from open access and grey literature. It can be used for the extraction of the data on micronutrient intake and status for all population groups; in addition it accommodates information on socioeconomic and cultural determinants associated with intake and/or status.
  • DIET-ASSESS-Data entry and dietary intake assessment tool –for analyses and evaluation of FFQ and 24 H recall and nutrient intake on individual or population level.
  • EuroFIR FoodBasket web application has been developed to support citizens, dieticians and other healthcare providers with a simple online tool for calculation of composite food composition.
  • EuroFIR FoodExplorer- Web-based tool supports both simple and advancedsearches to provide complex food information to a wide spectrum of experts (like food compilers, dietitians, scientists, policy makers etc.). Itsupports food descriptions based on LanguaL, a comparison of data from different food composition datasets.

Work on Nutrition Policy

Regulation on the National Programme for prevention, treatment and control of cardiovascular diseases in the Republic of Serbia to the 2020th , the “Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, No. 05 110-1266/2010 (expert committee member)

National and International research project realized in DPHN:

National projects
Ongoing

  • Biological mechanism, dietary intake and status of polyunsaturated fatty acids and folate: Nutrition improvement in Serbia (2011 – 2014 III 41030)
  • INGEMA_S-An integral study to identify the regional genetic and environmental risk factors for the common mpmcomunicable diseases in the human population of Serbia (2011-2014 III 41028)

Finished

  • Nutrition as a risk factor, prophylactic and therapeutic factor for health and non-communicable diseases in population’’
  • Yugoslav study of atherosclerosis precursors in school children 1998/2003/2008

International and EC Research projects:

  •  EuroFIR- FP6 -European Food Information Resource Network (NoE) www.eurofir.org (2006-2011)
  • EuroFIR Nexus FP7- EuroFIR Food Platform: Further integration, refinement and exploitation for its long-term self-sustainability ( 2011-13) (www.eurofir.org)
  • EURRECCA- FP6- Harmonising nutrient recommendations across Europe with special focus on vulnerable groups and consumer understanding (NoE) www.eurreca.org (2007-2012)
  • DIETS, Dieticians Improving Education Training Standards across Europe, Thematic Network for Dieticians in Europe, Socrates Erasmus fund 2007-2100, http://www.thematicnetworkdietetics.eu
  • CHANCE -FP7 Low Cost tecHnologies and traditional ingredients for the production of Affordable, Nutritionally correct, Convenient foods enhancing hEalth in population groups at risk of poverty http://www.chancefood.eu/ (2011-2014)
  • European Food Safety Authority (“EFSA”) project: “Updated food composition database for nutrient intake” (2012)
  • European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) “Dietary monitoring tools for risk assessment” (2012-2013)
  • Bilateral project with Croatia: Folate status in populations at risk: young adult women of reproductive age and elderly (2011-2013)

Regional activities

  • Capacity Development Network in Nutrition in Central and Eastern Europe, NCDNCEE-CAPNUTRA (www.agrowebcee.net/ncdn)

References:

References DPHN to download…


Dr Maria Glibetic

SOULFOOD Serbia

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