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World Rev Nutr Diet. 2013;108:18-31. doi: 10.1159/000351481. Epub 2013 Sep 6.

Scientific standards for human intervention trials evaluating health benefits of foods, and their application to infants, children and adolescents.

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  • 1Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK.


Associations between the consumption of particular foods and health outcomes may be indicated by observational studies. However, intervention trials that evaluate the health benefits of foods provide the strongest evidence to support dietary recommendations for health. Thus, it is important that these trials are carried out safely, and to high scientific standards. Accepted standards for the reporting of the health benefits of pharmaceutical and other medical interventions have been provided by the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement. However, there are no generally accepted standards for trials to evaluate the health benefits of foods. Trials with foods differ from medical trials in issues related to safety, ethics, research governance and practical implementation. Furthermore, these important issues can deter the conduct of both medical and nutrition trials in infants, children and adolescents. This paper provides standards for the planning, design, conduct, statistical analysis and interpretation of human intervention trials to evaluate the health benefits of foods that are based on the CONSORT guidelines, and outlines the key issues that need to be addressed in trials in participants in the paediatric age range.

Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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