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  Foods, Nutrition Research

The department under the supervision of Ms. Sudha Vasudevan came into being in the year 2004 with the primary objective to study and evaluate the nutrition determinants of chronic diseases such as diabetes. The department is also focussed at popularizing lifestyle modification by increasing awareness on the variety of food choices for individuals with diabetes and to ensure adequate healthy balance diet for general population. Various population based studies targeted both at the rural and urban populace were conducted with the help of in-house developed unique dietary assessment tools such as the food frequency questionnaires (FFQ) and EpiNu® software India to assess the dietary intake of the population.


"To contribute to the prevent of diabetes and the improvement of public health awareness via nutritional epidemiology and food and dietetics research"


"To dissiminate the results of nutritional epidemiology and food and dietetics research to the community in order increase awareness empowering them to make healthy lifestyle changes in terms of their dietary and nutritional patterns"


Portfolio of Current Activities of the Department


I.  Nutritional Epidemiology
The department is focussed at nutritional epidemiology in the area of non communicable diseases more specifically diabetes, the area involves research on nutrition from a public health perspective and dietetics research. Monitoring food consumption, food pattern, nutrient intake and nutritional status of the population are the chief activities. 


a) Rural Nutritional Epidemiological studies (ongoing)
The CURES-Urban FFQ was modified to enable assessment of the dietary intake of the rural population living in Tamil Nadu. The anticipated study outcomes include estimation of the dietary intake of the rural population, determination of risk factor association and comparison of urban rural dietary intake.

b) Market survey of foods from various retail outlets in the South Indian metro city of Chennai and its relevance to chronic disease epidemiology (ongoing)
This study aims at providing for the lacuna of information related to the profiling of foods in the urban market and their relevance to chronic diseases epidemiology.  The key findings of the study till date are:
1) The availability of whole grain foods in the market was less than 5%
2) Nutrient labeling was present only in 20% and 80% of the total products respectively
3) Food / ingredient labeling was available only for 50% of the total products
4) The so called “healthier” foods are not ‘really’ healthy – they are either high in fat or sugar or the ingredients used were unhealthy.

c) Cooking oils and HDL-Cholesterol levels (ongoing)
26001 adults subjects aged ≥20 years who participated in phase 1 of Chennai Urban Rural Epidemiology Study (CURES), were interviewed.  Sunflower oil was used by 64%, followed by palm oil 21%, groundnut oil 8% gingelly 6% and coconut oil 1%. Sunflower oil, high in PUFA was found to be more popular among urban south India subjects at Chennai. Waist circumference and total cholesterol –HDL ratio showed a positive association while and HDL-C showed a negative association with sunflower oil users in comparison to gingelly oil users.

d) Development of the Visual food atlas to estimate portion size and tools (ongoing)
Indian cookery is considered to be one of the world’s most diverse cuisine and is characterized by a wide assortment of dishes and cooking techniques. This diversity has served as a key challenge to capturing the dietary intake of the Indian populace. The food atlas was developed to enhance better recall ability.

e) Sentinel Surveillance of cardiovascular risk factors among Industrial population (completed)
The department headed the nutritional component for the sentinel surveillance study, where we developed the food frequency questionnaire and software to accommodate regional based recipes and data entry for the three cities of Lucknow, Hyderabad, New Delhi. This questionnaire was used to assess the dietary intake of the industrial population

f) EpiDREAM and DREAM – Multi country study – In collaboration with McMaster University, Canada. (completed)
A food frequency questionnaire (meal based – Interviewer administered) and data entry software was developed.

g) Collection and standardization of Indian Recipes

5000 recipes both commercial (restaurants, hotels) and non-commercial units (canteen and household) have been collected from across the region. These recipes were cooked in the test kitchen of FNDR and standardised to estimate the cooked weight and per serving size. These recipes will serve as background to calculate the nutritive value of foods

h) Development of Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) – Meal based (Interviewer Administered)

A Unique meal based FFQ was developed to capture dietary intake among south Indians. To develop this FFQ, commonly consumed foods, portion tools and recipes were first gathered from among households and restaurants (commercial and noncommercial) the FFQ was then tested for its reproducibility and validity.

I) Prevention Awareness Counseling Education (PACE) – Lectures
Continuous nutrition based mass awareness lectures were given to school / college students, school staff, lecturers, police personnel, housewives, working men and women, and the general public. This program enjoyed the financial supported the on the funds provided by the Chennai Wellington project as a part of Prevention Awareness Counseling Education (PACE).

II) Foods Research
This section of the department is focussed at food quality analysis and product development. Under the able guidance of Dr.N.G.Malleshi, former Head, Grain Science Technology, CFTRI, Mysore and managed by Dr.Kalaiselvan, Research Associate, this section is mainly involved in:
1) Estimation of available carbohydrates
2) Analysis of proximates, dietary fibre and resistant starch
3) Food labeling development
4) Product development and evaluation
5) Guidance for new product development

a. Sensory Evaluation and nutrient estimation of rice samples, popularly consumed by Chennaites with different degree of milling
The study aimed to assess the effect of milling of rice varieties with different degree of polishing on sensory and nutritional parameters in terms of its color, appearance, texture, grain structure, softness, identity, tenderness etc.

b. Estimation of proximate and dietary fibre among nine rice varieties


III) Glycemic Index Testing Centre for foods
Glycemic Index (GI) measures the speed at which the foods get digested and converted to blood glucose. The index sets glucose at 100 and scores all foods against that number. GI describes the quality of carbohydrates and its impact on blood glucose. In India bulk of the calories (60-70%) consumed come from carbohydrate containing foods. Not many Indian single foods and mixed meals have been tested for GI in a scientific manner using an internationally approved scientific protocol. Hence, there is an urgent need to start such section to focus mainly on glycemic index testing of foods rich in carbohydrates.

a) GI testing of Indian-Flat bread [Roti], Raw and Parboiled cooked rice
This study determined the glycemic index of whole wheat flour roti, raw and parboiled cooked rice. The protocol used to measure GI was recommended by the FAO/WHO and has been standardized with an international laboratory. The mean GI of whole wheat flour roti was 45.1, which falls under the category of low GI, while raw and parboiled cooked rice, which is commonly consumed by Chennaites was found to possess a high glycemic index of 70.2 and 76.4 respectively. Hence there is an urgent need to lower the glycemic index of the rice using recent post-harvest technology.

(b) Testing of Newly processed rice (Slow Carb) using post harvest technology

This study determined the glycemic Index of newly processed rice developed using post harvest technology. The mean and GI value of newly processed rice was 64.9.  This is very unique attempt to made using post harvest technology of the commercial commonly consumed rice variety. The newly processed rice falls under the medium GI category and will have enormous health benefits among Asian Indian population who consume high carbohydrate diets predominantly derived from high GI staples such as control white polished rice.


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