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Zeitschrift für Ernährungswissenschaft

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 240–259 | Cite as

Strategies for analyzing nutritional data for epidemiological purposes — Conceptual framework

  • U. Oltersdorf
  • H. Boeing
  • A. Hendrichs
  • A. A. Bodenstedt
Original Contributions

Summary

The relation between nutritional factors and health investigated in epidemiological studies are often inconsistent. One of the reasons for such findings can be the improper addressing of the multitude of nutritional dimensions in the specific study situation such as physiological individuality of human beings, different living conditions, or numerous interdependencies between nutritional variables.

Epidemiological research in nutrition and health should recognize such facts and work with appropiate study models and adequate data analyses. Instead of investigating heterogenous populations it is advisable to concentrate on specific “types” of people. Under consideration of the study goals such “types” can be compiled according to physiological properties, e.g., cholesterol sensitivity, or biological-constitutional factors such as body build, life-style entities, or other factors.

The variety of nutrition factors far beyond the commonly applied nutrient values can be expressed in integrated indices of “food patterns”. Such “food patterns” can be derived in many ways. They can be deduced from theories by using specific criteria, but also explored by modern multivariate statistical analyses. The ways leading to “food patterns” are discussed.

The ideas presented and discussed in this paper lead to an improved model for research in the field of nutrition and health with integrated indices of “food patterns” as the critical point. It is assumed that using this approach will generate new insight in the relation of nutrition and health, a currently still diffuse research area.

Key words

Data analysis health status food pattern nutrition behavior research strategy 

Zusammenfassung

Die Beziehungen zwischen Ernährungsfaktoren und Gesundheit in epidemiologischen Studien sind oft inkonsistent. Eine der möglichen Ursachen für diese Gegebenheit kann darin liegen, daß die Vielzahl der potentiellen Ernährungsdimensionen in der spezifischen Untersuchungssituation in unzulänglichem Maße berücksichtigt wurden. Solche Dimensionsbereiche sind vor allem die physiologische Individualität von Menschen, deren verschiedenen Lebensumwelten und die zahlreichen Interdependenzen zwischen Ernährungsvariablen.

Diese Tatsachen sollten in ernährungsepidemiologischen Studien dadurch besser erfaßt werden, daß sowohl die Studienmodelle als auch die Datenanalysen entsprechend ausgerichtet werden. Anstelle von Untersuchungen an heterogenen Stichproben ist es ratsam, sich auf spezifische „Typen“ zu konzentrieren, wobei gemäß dem jeweiligen Studienziel solche „Typen“ aus den physiologischen Besonderheiten (z. B. Cholesterinempfindlichkeit), aus biologisch-konstitutionellen Faktoren (z. B. Körperbau-Typus), aus Lebensstil-Eigenschaften oder anderen Faktorenbereichen abgeleitet werden können.

Die Variationsbreite der Ernährungsfaktoren geht über die üblicherweise verwendeten Nährstoffdimensionen hinaus, doch sie läßt sich durch integrierte Indizes — die „Nahrungsmuster“ — zusammenfassen. Zu solchen „Nahrungsmustern“ kann man auf verschiedene Weise kommen. Sie können aus Theorien abgeleitet werden und zu bestimmten Bewertungsrastern führen. Man kann sie aber auch mittels multivariater statistischer Analyse suchen. Die prinzipiellen Wege, die zu „Nahrungsmustern“ führen, werden dargestellt und diskutiert.

Die hier vorgestellten und diskutierten Ideen leiten zu einem verbesserten Untersuchungsmodell für ernährungsepidemiologische Studien über. Die „Nahrungsmuster“ nehmen dabei eine wichtige Position ein. Man kann annehmen, daß durch diesen Untersuchungsansatz neue Erkenntnisse über die Beziehungen zwischen Ernährung und Gesundheit sichtbar werden, die helfen, den bisher noch diffusen Untersuchungsbereichen klare Konturen zu geben.

Schlüsselwörter

Gesundheitsstatus Ernährungsverhalten Forschungsstrategie Datenanalyse Nahrungsmuster Ernährungsepidemiologie 

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Copyright information

© Dr. Dietrich Steinkopff Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • U. Oltersdorf
    • 1
  • H. Boeing
    • 2
  • A. Hendrichs
    • 3
  • A. A. Bodenstedt
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Nutritional ScienceUniversity of GiessenFRG
  2. 2.German Cancer Research CenterInstitute of Epidemiology and BiometryHeidelbergFRG
  3. 3.Institute of Social Medicine and EpidemiologyFederal Health OfficeBerlinFRG
  4. 4.Institute of Rural SociologyUniversity of GiessenFRG

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