FIve Common Catastrophes in Clinical Nutrition Research
1-Wrong population: Vitamin supplementation in persons
with normal functional status of the vitamin will
not demonstrate a difference. This does not mean that
supplementation and replenishment of a documented
deficiency will not result in a positive outcome.
Insufficient numbers: The lower the risk, severity,
frequency, or interference with quality of life, the
greater the numbers needed to demonstrate an
2-Wrong intervention: Insufficient dose? Inappropriate
agent? Insufficient time? For example, daily intake of
400 IUs of vitamin D in an obese, deficient population
will not effect any positive changes over time.
Likewise, very high doses of vitamin D for short periods
of time in the same population may also not
effect a positive change.
3-Wrong comparison: Intervention studies too often
compare apples with oranges. Any comparison population
cannot be too different from the intervention
population. Different populations mean that nearly
anything can be proven, especially if one selects the
comparison group with a desired outcome in mind.
4-Wrong outcome measures: Serum measurements are
needed before, with, and/or after the intervention.
This documents a nutrient’s insufficiency/sufficiency,
change in concentration as well as the participant’s
adherence with the intervention. Laboratory measurements
must be reliable, taken at the right time,
and consistently applied. For subjective outcomes,
the questionnaires used must be validated for the
population and the intervention.