Selma Gicevic

Developing and validating a diet quality assessment tool for global use

Doctorate: ScD in Nutrition, Harvard University, 2018
Home mentor: Dr. Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr.PH., Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Host mentor: Dr. Japhet Killewo, MBchB, MSc, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences

Short biography:

Selma defended her doctoral thesis at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition (Boston, Massachusetts) in June 2018 titled “Dietary diversity, dietary quality and sustainable dietary surveillance”. Under the mentorship of Dr. Walter Willett, Selma evaluated newly developed diet quality metrics in relation to common pregnancy complications in the U.S. Nurses’ Health Study II. In 2015-2018, Selma also led the design and implementation the first population-based dietary study in Bosnia and Herzegovina in collaboration with the Bosnian Office for Statistics, and used newly developed diet quality metrics to evaluate demographic and socioeconomic predictors of dietary quality among Bosnians.

Previously, Selma worked with Dr. Kirsten Davison in analyzing the role of parenting in childhood obesity. During her master’s studies at the University of Westminster (London, UK), she developed and implemented dietary guidelines for preschool settings in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Project summary:

Metrics for measuring diet quality across different population groups, with special accent on vulnerable populations, are needed to monitor dietary quality globally, and to inform development of multidimensional sustainable diet metrics and public health policies aimed at improving population diets. 
The recently developed Prime Diet Quality Score is a novel, fully food-based and easy-to-administer score and a promising candidate for measuring sustainable diet globally. However, to become fully operationalized as an alternative to current metrics, PDQS needs further evaluation and refinement in different contexts and using different types of dietary data.

Selma's IMMANA-funded project aims to develop and validate a new diet assessment tool based on the Prime Diet Quality Score in Tanzania and the U.S.

Specifically, the project will:
1. Develop a diet assessment tool based on the PDQS as a stand-alone instrument, with potential variations, and assess the validity of this questionnaire across different country settings
2. Refine the PDQS for use with the 24h recall data