School of Public Health


EPI 538 Nutritional Epidemiology (3)

Application of epidemiological methods to studies of diet, nutrition, and chronic disease. A discussion of current issues and controversies enables students to design studies and read the literature in nutritional epidemiology. Prerequisite: EPI 511 or EPI 512 or instructor permission. Offered: jointly with NUTR 538.

Line Number Section ID Credits Days/Times Room/Bldg Instructor
This course is not offered during the current quarter. For more info, please see the Epidemiology Course Planning Sheet at the link below.
For a complete listing of Epidemiology courses, their elective categories, and when they are typically offered, please see the Epidemiology Course Planning Sheet

Additional Course Details

Advantages and limitations of the main methods in nutritional epidemiology are discussed in detail covering both observational studies as well as randomized controlled trials of nutrition and disease risk. Learning about methodological considerations and limitations is embedded in discussions focused on key applications of nutritional epidemiology, including diet & cardiovascular disease, diet & obesity, diet & type 2 diabetes, and diet & cancer. The overarching objective of the course is to provide in-depth knowledge of the challenges inherent in nutritional epidemiology, to provide an appreciation of some of the major controversies on diet and chronic disease, and to provide the tools needed to plan and conduct observational and interventional studies in nutritional epidemiology.    

Topics Covered

Dietary assessment methods: food frequency questionnaire, dietary recall, diet record, dietary intake biomarkers, calibration methods; variation in dietary intakes; adjustment for measurement error; energy intake adjustment; confounding in observational studies; randomized controlled trial design; short-term feeding studies to assess impact of diet on disease risk biomarkers or disease etiology    

Learning Objectives

  • Upon successful completion of the course, you will be able to:
  • Describe methodological issues of particular importance to nutrition studies in epidemiology
  • Name appropriate choice of dietary assessment tool(s) for use with different study designs in nutritional epidemiology
  • Critically evaluate the literature on observational and interventional studies of nutrition and chronic disease
  • Design randomized controlled dietary intervention trials and observational studies focused on diet either as a primary exposure or as a covariate
  • Discuss some of the accepted and controversial associations between dietary factors and chronic disease

Course Format

The class format consists of lectures, flipped classroom discussions, other class discussions, and project work within small groups. All course materials can be obtained through a CANVAS course web site.    

How You Will Be Evaluated

Most classes will consist of a lecture, a discussion of a paper related to the lecture, and/or study protocol / proposal development work in small groups. Specifically, students will work in small groups to develop a proposal for an observational study on diet and disease risk. This work will take place over ~5 weeks during which we will also learn about the major methodological considerations in nutritional observational studies. In addition to this group work, each student will submit a short research proposal on a (separate) topic of their choice related to diet and disease risk at the end of the quarter, and give a short oral presentation of their project.  

Grades will be given based on the short individual research proposal (40%) and the oral presentation of the research proposal (10%), as well as contributions to the paper discussions (25%) and the development of a proposal in small groups (25%).    

Contact the Instructors

Mario Kratz (   
Shirley A.A. Beresford (