Researchers at the University of Leeds are leading the development of a new website for the research and healthcare community, the first of its kind in the UK to collect comprehensively and assess nutrition data online.
The interactive website ‘nutritools.org’ will host validated dietary assessment tools and use an e-algorithm to aid tool selection by researchers and healthcare practitioners. Food intake information captured online will then link with a central food database that will analyse nutrition content, and feed these complete data back to the researcher at the click of a button.
The aim of the website is to streamline and improve the way nutrition data are currently collected and used by researchers, and advises on the most suitable dietary assessment tool for each project, tailored to the particular research question or objective.
Estimating dietary intake accurately is a major challenge in research and currently there is no consistent guidance in terms of dietary assessment tool selection, which makes it difficult to compare studies accurately. In addition, the paper-based method currently used to record data requires considerable time and effort to convert to information about specific nutrients.
The team behind the development hope the website will revolutionise the way the research community collects and analyses nutritional data.
Dr Janet Cade, Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology and Public Health in Leeds and leading the project, said: “Our vision is to improve the quality and consistency of diet-related data collected in biomedical, clinical and public health research.
“The Nutritools project is a fantastic opportunity to support a step-change in how we measure food and nutrient intake. It will help us make clearer links between diet and health.”
Professor Mike Kelly, formerly the Director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE, said: “Having quality-controlled, expert-approved dietary tools would facilitate systematic comparisons and synthesis of data which is key to the work done at NICE.”
Professor Cyrus Cooper, Director of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, added: “The proposed partnership will provide an important and unique opportunity, bringing together dietary assessment methods in a national centre for nutritional epidemiology, supported by a network of experts in the field.
“It will enable and provide support for the appropriate assessment and reporting of diet within a range of UK studies, which will add considerable value to ongoing and future projects, and will be of particular value to non-specialists.”
The website will be launched as part of the [email protected] (Dietary Assessment Tools Network) partnership, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and led by the Nutritional Epidemiology Group at the University of Leeds. The partnership includes nutrition, public health and epidemiology experts across six major UK Universities (Leeds; Imperial College, London; Southampton; Bristol; Oxford and Cambridge) as well as the Institute of Food Research, Norwich. The team at Leeds will build upon and complement existing dietary assessment tools from these partners, and elsewhere.
The website is expected to be launched in 2016, and will add to other digital initiatives from the [email protected] partnership, which has already created the successful weight loss app ‘My Meal Mate’ and the food diary website ‘myfood24′.
If you are an expert in the field and would like to apply to join the Nutritools advisory group, or if you have created a dietary assessment tool you would like considered for inclusion on the website, please contact the team by emailing: [email protected]
Source: Medical Research Council (MRC)