Introduction and public health. Nutritional epidemiology is relatively

Introduction

In
the past 30 years the main goal of nutritional guidance has changed from the
prevention of nutritional deficiencies to the prevention of chronic diseases
caused by obesity epidemic (Byers, 1999; McAllister, 2009). Food labels enables
consumers to compare the nutritional values of food products and make healthy food choices based on the relevant nutrition information
(Soederberg-Miller and Cassady, 2015). Nutritional epidemiology, defined as the
science of relations between food choices and population health (Michels, 2003), plays an increasingly important role influencing
food labels policy-making worldwide (Byers, 1999), as it is a vital tool promoting
a balanced diet and public health. Nutritional epidemiology is relatively new
branch of the wider epidemiology field, which is the study of the frequency,
distribution and determinants of health-related states and events in human
populations, and the application of this study to the control of diseases and
other health problems (WHO, 2017; Whiteman,
2011). Although abundance of nutritional epidemiology research articles is
available, their quality is variable as the fundamental criteria for the relationship between cause and effect
are often not met, in large part because many dietary factors are weak and do
not show linear dose-response relations with disease risk within the range of
exposures common in the population (Byers, 1999). Health care professionals including dietitians are
increasingly required to base their clinical decision-making practice on the
best available evidence. Evidence based medicine (EBM) is the tool that integrates
the best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values (Sackett et al., 2000). The concept
of EBM recognizes ever changing research literature (Steves and Hootman,
2004), actively encourage critical thinking, demands the accuracy and
precision of diagnostic tests, and improve quality of care through the
characterisation  and promotion of
practices that work and the termination of those that are harmful or
unsuccessful (Gray
and Pinson, 2003; Levi, 2001). Since relying on
poor quality evidence can lead to harm being caused or limited resources being
wasted (Rosenberg and Donald,
1995), in this essay, I will discuss and critically appraise a published study by Mhurchu et al. (2017)
entitled “Effects of interpretative nutrition labels on consumer food
purchases: the Starlight randomised controlled trail” with
regards to three main areas: validity, importance, and applicability
to patients and wider population.

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