Texas A&M AgriLife Joins International NutriRECS Consortium
Texas A&M AgriLife has become the fifth and newest member of the NutriRECS international consortium.
The goal of the consortium is to improve the methodology and rigor by which dietary guidelines are developed, establish a higher standard for providing nutrient and dietary guideline recommendations, and improve public policy and health outcomes.
Dr. Patrick Stover, vice chancellor and dean for agriculture and life sciences and Texas A&M AgriLife Research director, said the center at Texas A&M will work with other NutriRECS centers throughout the world to improve the synthesis of scientific evidence for nutrition guidance, policy and practice.
“There is a new mandate to connect nutrition and dietary guidance directly to reducing chronic disease and increasing health care savings,” Stover said. “NutriRECS is developing and using rigorous methodologies for evidence-based nutrition and dietary recommendations that link food directly to health and prevention for the benefit of consumers and the entire agricultural value chain.”
He said Texas A&M AgriLife’s accomplished faculty and researchers, along with the university system’s cutting-edge technology, extensive laboratory facilities and range of resources, will be “highly advantageous to the development of improved nutrition guidelines that will provide new opportunities for agriculture to be more responsive to consumer needs.”
“To help promote public health, our researchers are creating a rigorous evidence-base that links food and nutrient intakes to disease prevention,” he explained. “And we are employing brand-new technology to study people’s food choices and their consequences in ways that were never before possible.”
Stover will be joining the NutriRECS leadership team in providing transparent and trustworthy information based on sound science, while accounting for values, attitudes and preferences of the public.
“NutriRECS is an independent group comprised of renowned experts in nutrition, public health, research methodology and evidence-synthesis methods, who work together to develop high-quality nutrition guidelines,” he said. “They operate without institutional constraints and with strict safeguards against conflicts of interest, so members can provide independent, unbiased, factual and reliable recommendations for science-based nutritional guidelines.”
NutriRECS renowned and diverse faculty and institutions, leadership, collaborating members and trainees are located in Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Brazil and the U.S.
Dr. Bradley Johnston, director and co-founder of NutriRECS, an associate professor in the community health and epidemiology department at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, said consortium members ascribe to the same set of objectives. These include:
- Application of best systematic review, meta-analysis and practice guideline methods to investigate the relationship between nutrition, food and health outcomes.
- Integration of health-related patient and community values and preferences.
- Strict and transparent management of conflicts of interest.
- Dissemination of guideline recommendations via recognized, top-tier, open-access journals and emerging knowledge implementation strategies.
Johnston, whose focus is on health research methodology or, as he explains it “doing research on research methods,” said in addition to developing novel methods of evidence synthesis and knowledge implementation, the group’s primary aim is to develop trustworthy nutritional recommendations based on internationally accepted standards. These include standards endorsed by the Institute of Medicine, the Guidelines International Network and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation, or GRADE, working group.
NutriRECS has developed their own guideline methods, which are available online..
Johnston said nutrition plays a fundamental role in the prevention, treatment and prognosis of both acute and chronic diseases, and nutritional epidemiology has provided a foundation for nutrition research, influencing the practice of dietitians and dietary advice globally.
“NutriRECS operates under a philosophy of evidence-based clinical and public health practice as applied to the field of nutrition,” Johnston said. “Our focus is on improving practice guideline methods in this important field, training the next generation of clinicians in evidence-based nutrition, and getting research trainees involved in nutrition research methodology.”
Johnston said evidence-based nutrition involves using the best available nutrition evidence combined with clinical or public health experience to conscientiously work with the values and preferences of patients and community members to help them prevent, resolve or cope with problems affecting their physical, mental and social health.
“With the generous support and expertise of our Texas A&M colleagues, I believe that together we have the potential to develop and implement rigorous, value-added, high-quality systematic reviews and dietary guideline recommendations on nutrition, food and lifestyle modification,” he said. “This work will impact nutrition-related decision-making and policy in Canada, the U.S. and beyond.”