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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Kathleen M Tharp, PhD, MPH, RD (University of Iowa College of Public Health)
Description: This is the third edition of a book on the principles for measuring and assessing the contribution of diet to health. The last update was published in 1998.
Purpose: The stated purpose is to provide an introduction to the field of nutritional epidemiology and to serve as a resource for investigators studying the connection between diet and long-term health and disease. The objectives are met through a thorough description of nutritional assessment methods, common issues in data analysis, and examples of studies on diet components and disease.
Audience: The intended audience is researchers of diet and disease as well as those interested in reading and evaluating the scientific literature. The two previous editions have been widely used as textbooks for graduate and professional students, and this edition continues to provide an excellent foundation in nutritional research. The author, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, is well known for his long-term studies on diet and disease.
Features: The book includes an overview of nutrition assessment methods such as 24-hour recalls, food frequencies, anthropometrics, and biochemical indicators. New to this edition are chapters on physical activity, genetics, and policy implications. Four chapters of the book are devoted to nutrition research on specific health conditions: lung cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, and neural tube defects. Particularly well covered are the logistics related to measuring and analyzing diet in a way that is accurate and reliable. There are also many tables and figures that summarize findings from the literature. The technical material presented in this book would likely be too challenging for casual readers. As the author indicates in the introduction, several topics are not covered, including child growth and studies of nutritional deficiencies in developing countries. Given the rapidly expanding research on nutritional epidemiology, the author has created a website with supplementary materials (www.nutepi.org). Eventually, the website is expected to have readings, sample discussion questions, and material on specific biochemical indicators.
Assessment: This remains an excellent textbook for students learning to evaluate the literature or design their own studies. New chapters on physical activity, genetics, and policy provide much needed updates on the methods used by today's researchers. Overall, the book is a nearly comprehensive introduction to the basic principles of studying diet and long-term health and disease.