Nutritional epidemiology

Our main field of research is epidemiological research, but we also do clinical trials. Our main study population for the research of nutrition and chronic diseases is the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD), one of the most extensively examined study populations in the world. Our other important study population is the Finnish Vitamin D Trial (FIND), which was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 5-y supplementation study of the benefits and risks of vitamin D in the primary prevention of CVD and cancer among 2500 men aged ≥60 y and women ≥65 y. We have also conducted several smaller vitamin D supplementation trials, some in collaboration with the Institute of Biomedicine. These studies have investigated, for example, the genomic, epigenomic and transcriptomic effects of vitamin D and include the VitDmet, VitDbol and VitDHiD trials.

The KIHD and FIND studies are included in several international networks, and have been involved and will be involved in several meta-analyses. The most important networks are NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, the Global Burden of Metabolic Risk Factors of Chronic Diseases Collaborating Group, Fatty Acids and Outcomes Pooling Project (FORCE), and Vitamin D and the risk of cardiovascular disease (D-CarDia).

Collecting food intake data and converting hand-written data into an electronic database is time consuming and expensive. Therefore, we have created an internet-based and automated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) to collect nutritional data in large study populations. In addition to the FIND study, studies applying our FFQ are the Kuopio Birth Cohort (KuBiCo), Intestinal and Nasal Microbiota of Patients with Idiopathic Parkinson's Disease (Helsinki University Hospital), Neurodegeneration in Multiple Sclerosis (Kuopio University Hospital), and Microbiome, Narcolepsy, and ADHD Study (University of Turku). The three last ones examine the role of colon microbiota in chronic diseases.

The ‘core group’ (Sari Voutilainen, Jyrki Virtanen, Tomi-Pekka Tuomainen) has in total over half a century of experience in epidemiological research and clinical trials.

Major research projects

1. Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD)

2. Finnish Vitamin D Trial (FIND)

3. Kuopio Birth Cohort (KuBiCo)

Group leaders
Adjunct Professor, RD, PhD Sari Voutilainen, sari.voutilainen(at)uef.fi
Associate Professor (tenure track), RD, PhD Jyrki Virtanen, jyrki.virtanen(at)uef.fi, UEF Connect

More information about us at www.uef.fi/nutritionepidemiologists.