Uncertainty of Results in Nutritional Epidemiology (Published in Nutrition Today May/June 2014)

Uncertainty of Results in Nutritional Epidemiology (Published in Nutrition Today May/June 2014)

Interpreting epidemiologic studies of diet and health is often complex because it involves many methodological issues and sources of uncertainty. Pertinent examples are false-positive and false-negative results, that is, findings that erroneously indicate the presence or absence, respectively, of association. Our objective in this commentary is to help nutrition and other health professionals interpret epidemiological studies when faced with this task. Our aim is not to provide an exhaustive discussion of all the methodological nuances of nutritional epidemiology; rather, we focus on some of the salient factors when interpreting findings from dietary studies, and the role that uncertainty (namely, from false-positives) plays, using relevant examples from the past few decades.