MS is a complex disease and the onset and course of the disease may be influenced by many factors. This may include special dietary factors. The growth in data about the diets of people with MS has improved our understanding of the relationships between some dietary factors and disease (e.g. vitamin D, fatty acids). However, further research is needed to help strengthen these findings and determine new diet-disease relationships. Research on people with MS to date has largely focussed on looking at large groups of individuals (cohort studies) rather than clinical trials, and has used study designs and tools designed for use in the general population and not specifically for MS.
Associate Professor Yasmine Probst aims to increase the strength and accuracy of the data available to help increase our understanding of the role that dietary factors might play in MS.
This overall aim of this research was to determine whether the methods currently used to explore dietary relationships in MS are robust. The Dietary Habits Questionnaire (DHQ) is a dietary screening tool that was originally developed for patients with cardiovascular disease, and is composed of 20 questions. It has since been adapted for people with MS, but at no stage validated for how well it captures food intake information. The DHQ is currently used in many projects by MS researchers in studies including thousands of people for whom dietary data would be very valuable.
In this project, a total of 96 people with MS were included from Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States. The DHQ was compared against twice repeated online 24-hour recall assessments, the gold standard method for dietary studies.
The study found that the only components of the DHQ that provide reliable data are the fruit and vegetable intake questions. This suggests that more rigorous form of dietary survey is required to make strong conclusions about association of other components of the diet with disease activity or progression in MS.
The study also showed that using an online dietary assessment was feasible for group of people with MS (mostly relapsing-remitting MS).
Overall the work suggests that existing dietary studies in MS could benefit from shifting to a more rigorous form of dietary intake data collection, and showed that such studies could likely be conducted online successfully for people with MS.
Updated: 19 June 2020
Updated: 02 January, 2019
Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.
Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.
Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.