Need for a nutrition-specific scientific paradigm for research quality improvement

Alan Flanagan, James Bradfield, Martin Kohlmeier, Sumantra Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Nutrition science has been criticised for its methodology, apparently contradictory findings and generating controversy rather than consensus. However, while certain critiques of the field are valid and informative for developing a more cogent science, there are also unique considerations for the study of diet and nutrition that are either overlooked or omitted in these discourses. The ongoing critical discourse on the utility of nutrition sciences occurs at a time when the burden of non-communicable cardiometabolic disease continues to rise in the population. Nutrition science, along with other disciplinary fields, is tasked with producing a translational evidence-base fit for the purpose of improving population and individual health and reducing disease risk. Thus, an exploration of the unique methodological and epistemic considerations for nutrition research is important for nutrition researchers, students and practitioners, to further develop an improved scientific discipline for nutrition. This paper will expand on some of the challenges facing nutrition research, discussing methodological facets of nutritional epidemiology, randomised controlled trials and meta-analysis, and how these considerations may be applied to improve research methodology. A pragmatic research paradigm for nutrition science is also proposed, which places methodology at its centre, allowing for questions over both how we obtain knowledge and research design as the method to produce that knowledge to be connected, providing the field of nutrition research with a framework within which to capture the full complexity of nutrition and diet.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-391
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 14 Jul 2023


  • Nutrition assessment
  • Precision Nutrition


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