Building and Translating Evidence-Based Nutrition and Bone Research Into Policy and Public Health Messaging
Osteoporotic fractures are a global public health burden that can be reduced through proper nutrition, physical activity, and other healthy lifestyle habits. During this health system and policy evolution, and in the current fiscal climate, public officials are looking for reproducible evidence of what works to guide their funding and policy decisions. There is a large gap between publishing and dissemination of high-quality research in the field of nutrition and bone health and its application to developing strong policy and public health messaging. Scientists and policy-makers are flooded with information of varying quality in the peer-reviewed literature. Adoption of evidence methodologies from the medical field often hinders communication of study outcomes; nutrition is often difficult to perfectly achieve statistical assumptions that inform the model, and use of strict p-values ≤0.05 and 95% confidence intervals may not actually reflect how close data are to the model’s prediction. Too often the nutrition, policy, and public health communities do not intercommunicate, translate, or effectively disseminate the high-quality evidence for use in public health where it is likely to have beneficial impacts. How can we more effectively translate scientific discoveries and compilations of evidence that tell the true nutrition story into public health action, even in the presence of bias, absence of homogeneity, and lack of total consensus? How can nutrition scientists take back nutrition and once again be the authoritative voice, in the midst of many other organizations, groups, and individuals competing in this space? To answer these questions, we must invest ourselves in not only generating strong science but invest in ongoing strategic communications to better disseminate research. Scientists and advocacy bodies should consider four continuous steps when developing, translating, and disseminating high-quality evidence: (1) identify and engage stakeholders; (2) build the evidence base; (3) create a translation plan; and (4) develop a dissemination strategy. It is critical that nutrition scientists adapt to the current digital and media communications environment and regain control of development of public policy and messaging.
KeywordsEvidence-based nutrition Policy Research Public health messaging Bone health Osteoporosis
Travel funding to attend the 2017 Interdisciplinary Symposium on Nutritional Aspects of Osteoporosis (ISNAO) was provided by the American Society for Nutrition. TCW is the principal and CEO of the Think Healthy Group, Inc., a food science and nutrition consulting firm dedicated to advancing cutting-edge research and public health through engagement of industry, academia, government, media, and nongovernmental organizations. Additional information, published manuscripts, presentations, and sources of funding for all projects can be found on Dr. Wallace’s blog at www.drtaylorwallace.com.
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