Projects / Programmes source: ARRS

Nutrition and public health

January 1, 2015 - December 31, 2018
Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
3.08.00  Medical sciences  Public health (occupational safety)   
4.03.00  Biotechnical sciences  Plant production   

Code Science Field
B420  Biomedical sciences  Nutrition 

Code Science Field
3.03  Medical and Health Sciences  Health sciences 
nutrition, public health, dietary intake, health claims, functional foods
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (18)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publications
1.  33338  PhD Evgen Benedik  Human reproduction  Researcher  2015 - 2018  545 
2.  27975  PhD Urška Blaznik  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2015 - 2018  174 
3.  05373  PhD Ivan Eržen  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2015 - 2018  650 
4.  15312  PhD Nataša Fidler Mis  Human reproduction  Researcher  2015 - 2018  415 
5.  24228  PhD Matej Gregorič  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2017 - 2018  209 
6.  18642  PhD Cirila Hlastan Ribič  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2015 - 2018  245 
7.  39476  Maša Hribar  Public health (occupational safety)  Technician  2017 - 2018  46 
8.  23075  PhD Mojca Korošec  Animal production  Researcher  2017 - 2018  428 
9.  00950  PhD Ivan Kreft  Plant production  Researcher  2015 - 2018  891 
10.  22463  PhD Anita Kušar  Plant production  Researcher  2015 - 2018  102 
11.  36048  PhD Živa Lavriša  Public health (occupational safety)  Junior researcher  2015 - 2016  42 
12.  37388  PhD Jana Lozar Krivec  Human reproduction  Technician  2016 - 2018  76 
13.  39242  PhD Nina Mikec  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Junior researcher  2016 - 2018  19 
14.  36493  PhD Krista Miklavec  Public health (occupational safety)  Junior researcher  2015 - 2016  20 
15.  06832  PhD Jurij Pohar  Animal production  Researcher  2015 - 2017  212 
16.  24300  PhD Igor Pravst  Public health (occupational safety)  Principal Researcher  2015 - 2018  280 
17.  39008  Manca Velkavrh  Medical sciences  Technician  2016 - 2018 
18.  24278  PhD Katja Žmitek  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2015 - 2018  157 
Organisations (5)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publications
1.  0312  University Medical Centre Ljubljana  Ljubljana  5057272000  73,063 
2.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  64,117 
3.  2885  VIST - Faculty of Applied Sciences  Ljubljana  2288591  789 
4.  3018  NUTRITION INSTITUTE  Ljubljana  3609081  452 
5.  3333  National Institut of Public Health  Ljubljana  6462642  17,014 
Diet and lifestyle play a major role in the growing incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in both Slovenia and worldwide. A number of determinants, including social and economic ones, impact population lifestyle habits and create health inequalities. High quality research investigating links between nutrition/lifestyle habits and the health status of the population is essential for scientific progress in the area of public health and to support health policy with efficient approaches for improving public health. To perform efficient research in this area a highly interdisciplinary and inter-institutional approach is needed. The objectives of the our programme group are divided into four key thematic sets: (a) developing a nutritional methodology; (b) investigating the lifestyle habits/health status of the population; (c) assessing ways to efficiently promote healthy foods and diets; and (d) support developing functional foods. At a time of a global rise in obesity, some population groups are still at a high risk of nutrient deficiencies. An efficient methodology should be developed to identify such risks. Employing digital nutrition assessment methods will contribute to the more efficient use of resources in nutrition research and clinical practice, but such methods should be tailored for use in each country and a specific target population. In addition, novel approaches should be developed to enable resourceful targeting of studies of specific target populations. Optimisation of access to subjects with specific dietary and/or lifestyle habits remains a key challenge which should be resolved to facilitate scientific progress in the areas of public health and nutrition. The promotion of healthy diets and foods is also challenging. A common approach to achieve this involves public campaigns for raising awareness about specific nutrition- and health-related issues, but to achieve cost efficiency such actions should be driven by the use of best practices and results of recent scientific research. Moreover, the efficiency of such actions should be evaluated to support future initiatives. Food labelling and advertising are also powerful tools that can affect dietary habits. The labelling of a nutrition declaration and use of nutrition/health claims/symbols enable the promotion of healthy foods/diets, but understanding the needs and behaviours of the consumer are key elements to assure the efficiency of such an approach. Another approach to improve public health is to facilitate the development of so-called functional foods, which should support body function over meeting basic nutrition needs. Such foods can also advance research and innovation, along with the global competitiveness of Slovenian industry.
Significance for science
In last years there has been a significant progress on all four thematic sets of this programme. Digitalisation has enabled remarkable progress in the nutritional methodology and further scientific progress on this area will enable efficient conduction of future research on much higher population samples, than we could imagine a few years ago. Furthermore, a number of extensive databases with important health-related population data is collected on daily bases by governments, research organisations and companies, but these databases are mostly underutilised. The scientific community is therefore joining forces to gain access to such databases, to connect them and to develop new approaches and methods which will have major contribution to public health. However, these databases also contain potentially sensitive personal data and work need to be organised/performed in a way that such data is employed using highest standards of Information Security Management (e.g. ISO27001), respecting the purpose of data collection, and need for consents of the subjects, whose data is being used. Use of such approaches will enable rapid and efficient tracking of links between lifestyle habits and health status of the population and conduction of highly targeted trials. Development of new approaches for targeted access to subjects with specific dietary and/or lifestyle habits offer a major potential for the improvement in the identifying populations at risk. Furthermore, new approaches are being developed in the area of promotion of healthy foods and diets. Improved, more affordable methods are introducing highly measurable intervention parameters and eliminating weaknesses of past observational approaches. Use of state-of-the-art research methods and access to proper infrastructure also enable development of systematic evidence-based approaches for evaluations of public health interventions, supporting cost-efficiency of future interventions. A major progress is also observed in the development of functional foods. Foods and their constituents are being intensively examined to better understand their role in human nutrition and to support public health. The proposed research programme will introduce new research methodologies and provide results important to the development of science in multiple disciplines, particularly in the areas of public health, nutrition and food technology, e.g.: Improvement of methodologies for the efficient assessment of the dietary and health status of subjects and population groups Development of new methodologies for efficient access to specific population groups Development of new methodologies for assessing the risk of the overconsumption of particular food constituents in population groups with specific dietary/lifestyle habits Improving understanding of the links between social/economic determinants and dietary/lifestyle habits in the population Improving knowledge of the parameters which facilitate health inequalities Introducing an evidence-based approach for the practical nutrition of infants, children and adolescents Providing new insights into mechanisms of nutrition and the health parameters and development of children Introducing systematic evidence-based approaches for evaluations of public health interventions Development of new methodologies for research of consumer behaviour and food selection Improving scientific knowledge on the composition of foods and their constituents and factors affecting their composition and content of bioactive compounds Providing new knowledge on the processing/uses of food ingredients to support the development of foods with attractive nutrition and sensory properties Scientific results of the proposed programme will be widely disseminated through publications in international scientific literature. In collaboration with the government and industry we will also support innovative application of the results of the project into practice.
Significance for the country
In Slovenia different research organisations currently cover nutrition from the public health perspective. The proposed research programme provides a unique opportunity to connect researchers working in similar scientific fields, support long-term inter-institutional collaboration, scientific excellence and overall national scientific capacity. Using a highly targeted multidisciplinary and inter-institutional approach, the proposed programme will also have major following direct and indirect effects for Slovenia's socio-economic development: Direct significance for Slovenia and government: Proposed research programme is in line both with national and European Union priority research fields, targeting major societal challenges, particularly (a) Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing, and (b) Food Security. Research achievements will support competitiveness of collaborating researchers, particularly for applications for research sources in new EU calls for research projects. The proposed programme also supports national priorities incorporated in official action plans (e.g. National food policy programme, National programme for the reduction of diabetes, National programme for reduction of cancer,…). Results of the programme will enable an evidence-based approach in the development of health priorities and policies in the future. The results of investigations in the areas of public health and nutrition are an important long-term investment in the health of the population and will enable food security and the development of target interventions, reduce medical costs and increase productivity in Slovenia. Direct significance for publicly-provided services: Results of the proposed programme will have a direct impact on health practice. The new methods for dietary assessment will enable more reliable and efficient treatments and dietary advice. The development of a novel nutritional methodology will increase the efficiency and quality of clinical practice. Direct significance for businesses: The lack of data on the dietary status of the population is hindering responsible innovation in the food industry. Food producers are currently enriching foods with micronutrients and other bioactive substances without knowing the actual needs of the population, which might not always be beneficial and introduce new public health risks. Results of this programme will provide the industry with the needs of the population. In addition, with research in the area of functional foods the programme results will support the socially-responsible innovation and development of the food industry, and therefore support Slovenian industry in their global competiveness. Indirect socio-economic significance: Results of the proposed programme will improve public awareness of the importance of healthy nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, and support high standard education in the national higher education system. Researchers of our programme are active in knowledge transfer into study programmes and into curricula. Collaborating researchers are also supervisors of BSc/PhD students and young researchers. The following actions will be performed to achieve this: The programme results will be disseminated to the professional public through education and publication of the results. The programme will be supported with the inclusion of students and young researchers. Key programme results will be distributed to the national press agency and the media in the form of regular press releases. This will improve public awareness of the importance of healthy nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. Key results will be disseminated to industry through presentations at professional conferences and seminars.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2015, 2016, 2017, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2015, 2016, 2017, final report
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