The overarching aim of my work is to provide robust, high quality evidence to determine dietary priorities for cardiometabolic health, to understand corresponding disease-specific burdens globally, and to design and implement effective corresponding policies. My group’s research has three broad themes:
1. Nutritional discovery: elucidating how specific nutrients and foods influence cardiometabolic risk, including coronary disease, stroke, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, obesity, and cognitive decline, and related intermediatory risk factors and pathways, by means of observational studies, population analyses, and randomized trials. We have learned much in the last decade, but much remains to be learned. Our ongoing projects are building upon and expanding our prior discoveries on key dietary and metabolic fatty acids, other nutrients, and foods and dietary patterns and incident cardiometabolic diseases, mortality, and healthy aging.
2. Global diet and cardiometabolic health: understanding the intakes of key nutrients, foods, and diet patterns worldwide, by age, sex, country, rural/urban status, income, and time; and quantifying and modeling the corresponding impacts on disease burdens across specific populations. Traditionally, few countries globally have had publically available national data on diet, leading to data-free hand-waving about “nutrition transitions” and “Westernization of diets” globally. Our work in NutriCoDE has provided systematic, quantitative, and comparable evidence on dietary intakes and their impacts on health and disease worldwide. We now continue to build upon and expand this work, including a focus on diet and diseases across the lifespan from infancy to late in life.
3. Dietary policy: determining the comparative effectiveness and cost effectiveness of organizational, community, legislative, and other policy-based approaches to improving diet and reducing disease in diverse populations. While individual-based behavior change is effective for some, I have become convinced that policy strategies represent the most powerful approach to improve diet in the US and globally. Yet, to-date, much dietary policy to reduce chronic disease has been based on limited data or best guesses, while also often focusing on outdated nutritional targets/priorities. Our investigations aim to provide robust, data-driven, quantitative evidence on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of diet policies, based on evidence synthesis, outcome modeling, and implementation and translational research and evaluation.