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Curr Dev Nutr. 2018 Jul 5;2(9):nzy060. doi: 10.1093/cdn/nzy060. eCollection 2018 Sep.

An Academia-Industry Partnership for Planning and Executing a Community-Based Feeding Study.

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New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, Division of Endocrinology, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.
Sodexo, Inc., Framingham State University, Framingham, MA.
Institutional Centers for Clinical and Translational Research, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.
Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, Marlborough, MA.
Department of Food and Nutrition, Framingham State University, Framingham, MA.


A research team from Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School conducted a community-based feeding study in collaboration with Framingham State University (FSU) and Sodexo, the food service contractor at FSU. The study was a randomized controlled trial, implemented on the FSU campus. For the final year of the study, a satellite feeding site was established at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School. The purpose of the study was to assess the biological effects of different macronutrient diets. An academia-industry partnership was developed to overcome common challenges associated with hospital-based feeding studies. Benefits included the following: a study site outside of Boston (reducing inconvenience for participants), access to a large commercial kitchen and study-specific kiosk (promoting efficiency), collaboration with Sodexo chefs (ensuring palatability of meals), and opportunity to procure food from contracted vendors. The research (academia) and food service (industry) teams worked together to design, plan, and execute intervention protocols using an integrated approach. During execution, the research team was primarily responsible for overseeing treatment fidelity, whereas the food service team provided culinary expertise, with a strong focus on hospitality and food quality. The study was conducted in 3 cohorts between August 2014 and May 2017. Participants received all of their food for ∼30 wk, totaling >160,000 meals. For all 3 cohorts combined, 234 participants provided informed consent, 229 started a standard run-in weight-loss diet, 164 lost a mean ± SD 12% ± 2% of baseline body weight and were randomly assigned to different macronutrient diets for weight-loss maintenance, and 148 completed the study. During the final and largest cohort, as many as 114 participants received daily meals concurrently. The daily cost per participant for preparation and service of weighed meals and snacks was ∼$65. This academia-industry partnership provides a model for controlled feeding protocols in nutrition research, potentially with enhanced cost-effectiveness, practicality, and generalizability. This trial was registered at as NCT02068885.


dietary intervention; different macronutrient diets; feeding protocol; meal service; randomized controlled trial; research partnership; treatment fidelity

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