Poster Topical Area: Nutritional Epidemiology

Location: Hall D

Poster Board Number: 834

P20-168 - Diet-related Prevention Research funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health from 2012-2017

Monday, Jun 11
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Objectives: Describe the landscape of diet-related prevention research proposed by investigators who were awarded U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants. To our knowledge, this is the largest effort ever undertaken to describe funded diet-related prevention research in humans.


We characterized over 9,000 representative research grants awarded by NIH that were chosen using a novel machine learning algorithm trained to predict prevention research in humans. Teams of three public health professionals read and coded each grant based on titles, abstracts and public health relevance statements. Each grant was coded for the type of prevention research, health condition foci, study designs, and whether diet was an outcome or exposure for any research aim. The coded results were extrapolated to describe the entirety of the diet-related prevention research funded by the NIH during fiscal years 2012-2017.


The study of diet was observed to be commonly proposed by NIH grantees who planned to conduct disease prevention research in humans during fiscal years 2012-2017. The most common health conditions focused on in these diet-related grants were obesity, heart disease, and cancer. The aims of these grants were most often observational in nature but randomized clinical trials were also a common study design proposed by the investigators. Of the few grants developing novel methods for dietary assessment, most focused on biomarkers of food/nutrient intake as opposed to using new technology (e.g. cameras, wearables) to improve capture of dietary intake.


NIH Is the largest funder of biomedical research in the world and frequently invests in diet-related research. As expected, the aims of these diet-related grants were more often hypothesis generating (observational) in nature than testing a dietary intervention. Few grants proposed methods for improving dietary assessment which is the largest limitation for diet research. Next steps include examining the alignment of the proposed research in these grants with notable gaps in evidence for nutrition- and diet-related policy and research to determine where needs still exist.

Funding Source: National Institutes of Health, Office of the Director, Office of Disease Prevention supported this work in full.

CoAuthors: Jennifer Villani – National Institutes of Health; Sheri Schully – National Institutes of Health

Ashley J. Vargas

Health Science Policy Analyst
National Institutes of Health
North Bethesda, Maryland