Better evidence-based nutrition research was crucial if governments were to persuade the public of the need to improve their health and avoid preventable diseases associated with poor diets and lifestyles, according to Macdonald, from the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham.
Given the complexity of nutrition science, research could be expensive, so needed to be rigorous and multi-disciplinary – with collaboration between qualified nutritionists, clinicians and industry, said Macdonald, who gave the British Nutrition Foundation Annual Lecture in London last month.
This involved studies on healthy individuals, as well as those at particular risk, such as the overweight and the elderly, he added.
‘Do nutrition in the right way’
“We [in the UK] are leaders in nutrition and we need to make sure we carry on helping the rest of the world do nutrition in the right way,” said Macdonald, adding good diets alone were not sufficient unless balanced by healthy lifestyles.
Evidence-based nutritional research was critical in helping policy-makers persuade the public to change their diets and lifestyles, he said. “That is a problem with a lot of recent claims on diet and optimal health – it’s based on one study … and is not sufficiently robust.”
Macdonald called for more research involving different experimental approaches to identify the diet and lifestyle combinations that promote optimal health. However, he conceded this posed a challenge because of the complexity of nutritional science.