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2.2 Population

The population to which the assessment refers must be defined unambiguously. This may include the target population for a new policy, product or advice, but may also need to include unintentionally exposed or special groups in the population (e.g. groups with special diets or differential sensitivity).

A complication occurs in assessments involving health effects on the next generation (i.e. on the offspring of the population experiencing the dietary change). The Qalibra framework addresses this by considering effects on offspring and their mothers together in the calculation of net health impact. This needs to be borne in mind when interpreting the results (see later).

For practical reasons, the population considered will often refer to a single country, for which dietary surveys are available to estimate intakes. It may be possible to draw conclusions for wider general populations (e.g. the EU), especially if this can be based on parallel assessments for several countries representing a range of diets, but such extrapolations are inherently uncertain and should be considered with care.

As will be seen below, the Qalibra framework and software can be applied to a single individual instead of a population. This option is intended for use in simplified assessments, e.g. to explore the balance of potential risks and benefits for different types of individual (e.g. a ‘typical’ or ‘worst case’ individual).