EREN aims at studying the relationships between nutrition (diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviours, nutritional status) and the health of both humans and the planet, also focusing on underlying mechanisms and the determinants of dietary behaviours. The end goal of our research is to provide health authorities and agencies with scientific evidence to guide the development of public health policies in order to improve the prevention of chronic diseases through a sustainable and healthy diet. EREN is the only French research team and one of the few internationally to be fully dedicated to nutritional epidemiology in all its dimensions.
Who we are
The Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team (CRESS-EREN, UMR U1153 Inserm / U1125 Inrae / Cnam / Sorbonne Paris Nord University / Paris Cité University) gathers around a hundred people, including researchers, engineers, technicians, administrative staff, PhD students, post-docs and trainees. The EREN also includes 3 epidemiologists from Santé Publique France (Equipe de Surveillance en Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle, ESEN), as part of a joint-venture agreement.
Its aim is to study the relationship between nutrition and health, the underlying mechanisms, the determinants of dietary behavior, and the impact of food systems on the environment. The aim of its research is to provide health authorities and government agencies with scientific knowledge to guide the development of public health nutrition policies.
EREN is developing innovative epidemiological research programs, in collaboration with academic partners from a variety of disciplines (experimental, toxicological and clinical research, sociology, agronomy, economics, psychology, social marketing) in France and around the world (e.g. with the IARC-WHO, Imperial College London in the UK, the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, the University of North Carolina in the USA, the Global Burden of Disease network - University of Washington, Deakin University, Sydney, Australia, etc.). EREN's work combines observational epidemiological studies, mechanistic epidemiology (biomarkers, omics data) and interventional research. This strategy enables us to better understand the complex role of diet and other exposures in the etiology of chronic diseases.
The team's research focuses on diet in its various dimensions (food, beverages, bioactive compounds, environmental exposures, dietary behaviors), including non-nutritional elements conveyed by food (food additives, contaminants linked to production methods, food processing and packaging, etc.), but also physical activity, sedentary behaviors and nutritional status (biological and clinical markers). These exposures are studied in relation to a broad spectrum of chronic diseases and health-related functions (obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, digestive, respiratory and dermatological diseases, mental and cognitive health, migraine, aging, eating disorders, mortality, etc.).
To meet these objectives, our strategy has been to set up and coordinate multiple epidemiological studies, such as the NutriNet-Santé web-cohort since 2009. The NutriNet-Santé web-cohort is a genuine research infrastructure designed to optimize policies and support decision-making in the field of public health nutrition.
The EREN team's work has already had a major impact on public health, both nationally and internationally, in areas such as Nutri-Score (the color logo created by the team, now official in France and 6 other European countries), ultra-processed foods, organic food and sustainability, etc., with an impact on the public health recommendations of the French National Nutrition-Health Program, and a role in the expert reports of the French National Cancer Institute, the World Cancer Research Fund, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and others. They are regularly the subject of hearings at the French National Assembly and Senate, and have recently been awarded several distinctions (e.g. Inserm Research Prize 2019, ERC Consolidator Grant 2020-2025, Coup d'élan Prize from the Bettencourt-Schueller Foundation 2021, annual Public Health Chair at the Collège de France 2022-2023).
Alongside its research activities, EREN is also heavily involved in numerous expert groups and scientific committees of national/international bodies (e.g. IARC-WHO scientific council, WCRF expert panel, JPI HDHL scientific committee, ANSES CES Nutrition, HCSP, PNNS steering committee, France 2030 Infrastructures de Recherche et d'Enseignement steering committee, etc.).
EREN coordinates the Nutrition Physical Activity Cancer Research network (NACRe): 43 French academic laboratories + 10 European laboratories in epidemiology, biology and sociology, working on nutrition and cancer (funding: INCa): https://www6.inrae.fr/nacre/
Finally, EREN is heavily involved in disseminating scientific knowledge to the public and healthcare professionals (interviews, conferences, workshops, video spots).
Some examples of topics for which we currently develop research programs :
- Health-related food processing (incl. food additives, contaminants, neo-formed compounds, packaging, cocktail effects)
- Diet-related exposome in relation to health
- Interaction between nutrition, gut microbiota and health
- Dietary exposure to pesticides and consumption of organic food in relation to health
- Impact of food on the environment and food sustainability
- Vegetalization of the diet, vegetarian/vegan diets
- Sugar, sweetened products and beverages, glycemic index/load, EFAs
- Circadian nutritional rhythms, fasting practices
- Restrictive diets (e.g. gluten-free)
- Food supplements
- Physical activity, sedentary lifestyle, connected objects
- Public health policies (e.g., recommendation adequacy scores, taxes, advertising regulation)
- Nutritional labelling (e.g., Nutri-Score)
- Psychological (especially positive + mindful eating), economic, geographic (built environment - geolocation) determinants of eating behavior and physical activity
- Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on eating behavior, physical activity and weight, nutrition and immunity
- Student nutrition
- Stigmatization of obesity
- Primary prevention of chronic pathologies, but also nutrition in patients with chronic pathologies (tertiary prevention)
- Surveillance studies in the general population or in specific groups
To meet our research objectives, EREN has set up and coordinates the NutriNet-Santé cohort. Launched in 2009, this web-cohort includes > 173,000 volunteers aged 15 years old or more.