Creating the Future of Evidence-Based Nutrition Recommendations: Case Studies from Lipid Research

Abstract: Strategic translational research is designed to address research gaps that answer specific guidance questions. It provides translational value with respect to nutrition guidance and regulatory and public policy. The relevance and the quality of evidence both matter in translational research. For example, design decisions regarding population, intervention, comparator, and outcome criteria affect whether or not high-quality studies are considered relevant to specific guidance questions and are therefore included as evidence within the context of systematic review frameworks used by authoritative food and health organizations. The process used in systematic reviews, developed by the USDA for its Nutrition Evidence Library, is described. An eating pattern and cardiovascular disease (CVD) evidence review is provided as an example, and factors that differentiated the studies considered relevant and included in that evidence base from those that were excluded are noted. Case studies on v-3 (n–3) fatty acids (FAs) and industrial trans-FAs illustrate key factors vital to relevance and translational impact, including choice of a relevant population (e.g., healthy, at risk, or diseased subjects; general population or high-performance soldiers); dose and form of the intervention (e.g., food or supplement); use of relevant comparators (e.g., technically feasible and realistic); and measures for both exposure and outcomes (e.g., inflammatory markers or CVD endpoints). Specific recommendations are provided to help increase the impact of nutrition research on future dietary guidance, policy, and regulatory issues, particularly in the area of lipids.

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