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Front. Physiol. | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00149

A novel approach to improve the estimation of a diet adherence considering seasonality and short term variability - the NU-AGE Mediterranean diet experience

  • 1Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia, Università di Bologna, Italy
  • 2Centro interdipartimentale "L. Galvani" per gli studi integrati di bioinformatica, biofisica e biocomplessità, Università degli Studi di Bologna, Italy
  • 3Department of Diagnostic and Experimental Medicine, University of Bologna, Italy
  • 4Division of Human Nutrition and Health, Wageningen University, Netherlands
  • 5Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Science on Human Nutrition and Consumption, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Poland
  • 6Norwich Medical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom
  • 7Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Clermont-Ferrand, France
  • 8IRCCS Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna (ISNB), Italy

In this work we present a statistical approach to improve the assessment of the adherence to a one-year nutritional intervention within the framework of the NU-AGE project. This was measured with an adherence score based on 7-days food records (7DFR), under limitations on the number of observations per subject and time frame of intervention.
The results of the NU-AGE dietary intervention were summarized by variations of the NU-AGE index as described in the NU-AGE protocol. Food and nutrient intake of all participants was assessed by means of 7DFR at recruitment and after 10 to 14 months of intervention. Sixteen food groups and supplementations have been used to estimate the NU-AGE index before and after the intervention.
The 7DFR is a reliable tool to register food intakes, however, as with other tools used to assess lifestyle dietary compliance, it is affected by uncertainty in this estimation due to the possibility that the observed week is not representative of the entire intervention period.. Also, due to logistic limitations, the effects of seasonality can never be completely removed. These variabilities, if not accounted for in the index estimation, will reduce the statistical power of the analyses. In this work we discuss a method to assess these uncertainties and thus improve the resulting index.
The proposed method is based on Hierarchical Bayesian Models. This model explicitly includes country-specific averages of the NU-AGE index, index variation induced by the dietary intervention, and country based seasonality. This information is used to evaluate the NU-AGE index uncertainty and thus to estimate the “real” NU-AGE index for each subject, both before and after the intervention.
These corrections reduce the possibility of misinterpreting measurement variability as information, improving the power of the statistical tests that are performed with the resulting index. The results suggest that this method is able to reduce the short term and seasonal variability of the measured index in multicenter dietary intervention trials.
Using this method to estimate seasonality and variability would allow one to obtain better measurements from the subjects of a study, and be able to simplify the scheduling of diet assessments.

Keywords: diet assessment, bayesian statistics, Hierarchical Models, mediterranean diet, Seasonality, regression to the mean, Inflammaging

Received: 27 Sep 2018; Accepted: 07 Feb 2019.

Edited by:

Leonardo A. Peyré-Tartaruga, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil

Reviewed by:

David C. Nieman, Appalachian State University, United States
Aida Turrini, Council for Agricultural and Economics Research, Italy
Nicola Veronese, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche - Area della Ricerca di Padova., Italy  

Copyright: © 2019 Giampieri, Ostan, Guidarelli, Salvioli, Berendsen, Brzozowska, Pietruszka, Jennings, Meunier, Caumon, Fairweather-Tait, Sicinska, Feskens, De Groot, Franceschi and Santoro. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: PhD. Enrico Giampieri, Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia, Università di Bologna, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy,