Dr. Zora Djuric is a research professor at the University of Michigan with scientific expertise in the area of nutrition and cancer. She received her B.S. degree in biochemistry from Texas A&M University and her Ph.D. degree in Toxicology from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Her postdoctoral training was at the National Center for Toxicological Research. Dr. Djuric started her academic career at the Karmanos Cancer Institute of Wayne State University. She was there for 18 years before joining the faculty at the University of Michigan in 2004. Her research interests are in the area of cancer prevention, especially in the role dietary patterns and energy balance in prevention. She has over 130 scientific publications, a strong record of funding from the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., and she received a Fulbright Global Scholar Award in 2018. She is active in peer review at the NIH and she holds leadership positions within the Obesity Society and the American Society for Nutrition.
Questions & Answers
The Mediterranean dietary intervention could be used for any population. Mediterranean diets have been shown to helpful in a wide variety of health scenarios, and harmful effects have not been documented to the best of my knowledge. The diet, however, should not be used as a substitute for a medically-recommended diet.
People who plan meals and keep track tend to have better adherence. After some time, this becomes easier and more automatic. Initially, the challenge is that this diet will take more time versus what one has become used to doing. This includes finding foods at the right price and planning ahead for times when fast food is tempting. We encourage people to have fun with it, such as sharing their new dishes at social gatherings and being creative about snacks on the go.
Evaluation can include dietary assessments, anthropometric measures and participant questionnaires to identify roadblocks and facilitators. The Fast Track booklet provided with the program would be suitable to assess dietary compliance with food group goals.
Questionnaires can be tailored for each setting. For us it was helpful to ask whether participants feel good about following the diet, what they see as the hardest part of following the diet, whether the phone call frequency was appropriate, whether they would recommend the diet to family and friends, and whether they intend to keep following the diet after the contacts with study staff end.
I am interested in learning more about traditional eating patterns and how these can be used to improve health today. I have also been studying how providing support for healthy lifestyles can be improved through primary health care venues.