Interpreting the Types of Research Studies Used in Nutrition Science

Published on: May 19 2023

Scientific research studies play a vital role in advancing our understanding of human health and making evidence-based decisions. In the field of nutritional science, researchers employ different types of studies to unravel the complex relationship between nutrition and well-being. This infographic provides a concise overview of the main types of nutrition research study design, highlighting their importance, limitations, and examples in ascending order of the strength of evidence obtained 

  • Foundational research in vitro studies in cells / tissues, and in vivo animal models which provide mechanistic insights into how a nutrient or ingredient responds within a controlled environment. These studies provide directional evidence to justify additional research and are often the start of the journey of developing scientific knowledge. 
  • Human observational studies track health outcomes of a large cohort of people overtime without providing specific intervention. These studies allow for statistical correlations to be made between diet and health in a large sample size. 
  • Human intervention studies measure the effect of a specific nutritional intervention in a distinct cohort of people, compared to another similar cohort receiving or a placebo (no intervention). These studies are considered the gold standard of nutrition research as they provide evidence of cause and effect. 
  • Interpreting the different types of scientific research studies is crucial for nutritional scientists and other professionals within the scientific community. Each type of study offers unique insights and contributes to the accumulation of knowledge in a specific field. By recognizing the strengths and limitations of these research methods, scientists can interpret and apply findings appropriately, fostering advancements in nutritional science and promoting evidence-based decision-making. 

Research Studies

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