Nutrition Epidemiology


 With the increase in incidence of non-communicable diseases in Nigeria and other low and middle income countries (LMIC), we need to focus on defining risk factors for these diseases in order to guide prevention and public policy. Therefore a major part of my work is developing the infrastructure for nutrition and physical activity epidemiology in Nigeria. To this end, I have:

  1. Developed a Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) for Nigeria. This tool will enable the performance of nutrition epidemiology of non-communicable diseases through the collection of data that provides information on aggregate dietary intake over time.
  2. Validation of Food Frequency Questionnaire with Dietary Recall and Biochemical markers. This enables us to learn how well the FFQ is working, the degree of error associated with it and how to use the error to adjust the data in statistical analyses.
  3. Application of the FFQ to study disease outcomes. We are currently using this tool in studies of cervical and breast cancer, and obesity

Old nutrition epidemiology research

  1. Dietary intake of milk and teenage acne: Teenage acne is an important source of physical and psychological morbidity as well as occasional mortality in young people. In addition, acne provides a biological model to study dietary intake and its association with glandular tissue such as breast which shares close embryological and evolutionary origin with the sebaceous gland. Our retrospective ( and prospective studies ( showed a positive association between dietary intake of skim milk and teenage acne. The prospective study of association between milk intake and teenage acne in girls is one of the top ten most read articles in Dermatology in 2006 according to Medscape. We believe that this association is either mediated by IGF1 pathways or through bioactive molecules in milk. You can see the interest generated by this study at AND acne&first=11&FORM=PERE.
    The milk, hormones and human health symposium that held in Boston in October 2006 was a powerful setting for discussion of issues relating to the association between milk intake and various health and disease states. In bringing together experts from medicine, public health and veterinary sciences, it laid the foundation for future important cross talk among these specialists to further understanding on the health impact of milk intake in humans. The proceedings of the workshop will soon be available online at
  2.  Dietary antioxidants and breast cancer risk: There is a lot of interest in the potential benefit of dietary antioxidants intake and risk of diseases. I have been exploring this in breast cancer patients. Flavonols are a major source of the antioxidant content of fruits and vegetables so we looked at the association between dietary flavonols intakes and risk of breast cancer. Overall, there was no association, but we found a protective effect with intake of beans and legumes ( You can read about interest generated by this work here - AND beans&first=11&FORM=PERE
  3.  We continue to probe this question and at the upcoming AACR Frontiers in Prevention of Cancer Meeting in Boston, Nov. 2006, we will be presenting the results of our study of dietary antioxidants intake measured using FRAP technique and risk of breast cancer 
  4.  Dietary patterns and risk of breast cancer: Most dietary epidemiology studies focus on one or a group of foods or nutrients and evaluate the association between these and risk of breast cancer or other diseases. Well, dietary intake usually consist of complex mixture of foods and nutrients. Therefore, we decided to use factor analysis to identify major dietary patterns and test the association between these patterns and breast cancer risk. Overall, we did not find an association possibly because the effect of the different food items cancel each other out. However, subset analysis showed an interesting inverse association between prudent dietary pattern and breast cancer risk among people who have ever smoked. This latter finding and our finding in the subset analysis of dietary antioxidants intake and breast cancer risk among smokers suggest that this subject requires further study.