#403 Prof. David Jacobs – Food Synergy & The Top-Down Approach to Nutrition Research

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Professor David Jacobs, PhD

Prof. David Jacobs is Professor of Public Health, in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, at the University of Minnesota. He has published highly inflential work in nutritional epidemiology and health epidemiolgy for decades.

A number of his papers have brought up crucially important ideas about how to do good nutrition science. Specifically, he has talked about think of whole diet or foods as the exposure of interest, rather than individual nutrients. Essentially warning against the pitfalls of applying a biomedical lens to nutrition research.

In this episode we discuss:

  1. The concept of food synergy
  2. "Top down” vs. “bottom up” research
  3. Having a hierarchical structure of dietary patterns, foods, and nutrients in studying nutrition
  4. The challenge in epidemiology of having a narrow variability in daily intake of the exposure
  5. The pitfall of pooling data gathered over ecological units, without reference to the ecological unit
  6. Shortcomings of applying a biomedical model lens to nutrition science
  7. Conceptually how we should approach setting out to do good nutrition science

Links & Resources

  • Click here to join the email list to receive our weekly Sigma Synopsis emails
  • Jacobs & Tapsell, 2007 - Food, not nutrients, is the fundamental unit in nutrition
  • Jacobs & Kromhout, 2019 - Education, diet, and incident cardiovascular disease: ecological interactions and conclusions
  • Jacobs & Gallaher, 2004 - Whole grain intake and cardiovascular disease: a review
  • Jacobs et al., 1979 - Diet and serum cholesterol: do zero correlations negate the relationship?
  • Anderson et al., 1979 - Scoring systems for evaluating dietary pattern effect on serum cholesterol
  • Dehghan et al., 2017 - Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE)

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