The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Disease Prevention held a workshop titled, “Extending Methods in Dietary Patterns Research”, in May of 2016. The workshop’s goal was to articulate, refine, and prioritize methodological questions to advance the science of dietary patterns in epidemiological research. Although the focus was on how to improve methods for assessing the relationship between dietary patterns and cancer risk, many, if not all, of the discussions and conclusions are relevant for other health outcomes as well. Recognizing that dietary intake is both multidimensional (i.e., it is a complex, multi-layered exposure and behavior) and dynamic (i.e., it varies over time and the life course), workshop presenters and participants discussed methodological advances required to include these concepts in dietary patterns research. This commentary highlights key needs that were identified to extend methods in dietary patterns research by integrating multidimensionality and dynamism into how dietary patterns are measured and defined, and how relationships with dietary patterns and health outcomes are modeled.
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