NUTRIHEALTH: Nutrition of adults as a protective or health-risk factor

Project co-financed by:

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Nutrition can present either a risk or a protective factor for the development of a series of non-communicable diseases. While such effects were established for during whole life cycle, the nutrition in early life is particularly important, because of its possible long-term impact on health in later life. Reliable scientific data on dietary intakes and nutritional status of the representative population sample present a predisposition for elucidate the specific role of nutritional factors in human health.

The scientific background of the proposed applicative research project is based on two starting points: a) the studies that follow the link between the early nutrition, initial intestinal microbiota, and development of children over a longer time period are limited, and b) in Slovenia no epidemiological data is available about the nutritional status of adults population, particularly in relationship to those micronutrients, for which the status can be reliably established only using biomarkers in human biological samples. Therefore, a key scientific challenges addressed in this project are to investigate the effects of early life nutrition on growth and health of children, to provide epidemiological data on the nutrient intakes in adults (including intakes of key micronutrients), and to investigate their relationship with various markers of health. The work programme of this multidisciplinary applicative project will comprise two pillars:

Pillar A is focused into children, and tightly linked with previous “My-Milk” project (SRA J4- 3606; finished in the year 2013), in which the role of early nutrition in the development of breast fed children and their intestinal microbiota during the first year of life were investigated. A prospective study will be conducted with children included to “My-Milk” study, who will be at the time of the study aged 6-7 years. Study will characterize the key modifying factors in early life on nutritional status (dietary intakes, anthropometrics, body composition - bone density, % of fat and muscle tissue), health (blood pressure, blood cholesterol, frequency and severity of infections), and faecal microbiota of children.

Pillar B is focused into adults, and tightly linked with the national dietary EU Menu study, which will conducted in 2017/2018 (funded by the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA). EU Menu project was launched by the EFSA in order to introduce standardised approach for assessment of the food intake evaluation across Europe. However, while its methodology enables the assessment of energy and macronutrient intakes, a number of key micronutrients could be only studied with examination of biological samples, such as blood and urine. The proposed project includes conduction of a cross-sectional study on adults included to EU Menu study, particularly focusing into women of childbearing age and the increasing population of elderly. In addition to standard validated dietary assessment method, biomarkers will be used to investigate the status of the key micronutrients, including vitamin D, folate, vitamin B12, iodine, and iron. Furthermore, epidemiology of some diet related diseases in Slovenia will be investigated, focusing on body composition and various other measurable markers of health, such as BMI, thyroid size, thyroid function, and thyroid disorders.

We expect that the project results will significantly improve progress in research in the areas of public health and nutrition and provide epidemiological data, which will be indispensable not only for the creation of appropriate policies, but also for further research, particularly for identification of new links between nutrition, health and the development of non-communicable diseases.

Selected publications with project results:

Additional information:

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Nutrition institute is engaged in research and education in the field of nutrition and advising the food industry in the formulation and labeling of foods. In the scope of the institute, research group Healthy Nutrition is established, which performs research on food and nutrition.