Nutrition Evidence Library -- Dietary Patterns Systematic Review Project


A Series of Systematic Reviews on the Relationship Between Dietary Patterns and Health Outcomes

Consuming a healthy diet can help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, and promote good health. Research in the field of nutrition often focuses on single nutrients, foods, and/or food groups.

While looking at components of the diet individually is important to examine the effects of various aspects of the diet on health, foods and nutrients are eaten in a variety of combinations and can have interactive and potentially cumulative or confounding relationships. By studying dietary patterns, these potential cumulative and interactive effects of individual components of the diet can be accounted for.

As methods used to assess dietary patterns have been advancing, researchers have been able to examine the relationship between complex dietary patterns and health. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee acknowledged that the state of the evidence and the methodologic rigor of the studies examining dietary patterns had advanced; thus, research on this topic was summarized in the Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010: The Total Diet: Combining Nutrients, Consuming Food, which was subsequently used as the foundation for a chapter in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010: Building Healthy Eating Patterns.

The inclusion of dietary patterns in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report and the subsequent 2010 Dietary Guidelines was supported within and outside of the government. Following the 2010 Dietary Guidelines release, the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) conducted interviews with various Federal stakeholders, and dietary patterns was identified as a topic that should be monitored. Based on this feedback, the NEL initiated this systematic review project to examine the relationship between dietary patterns and outcomes of public health concern.

This report contains the methodology, systematic review questions, conclusion statements and grades, evidence summaries, research recommendations, and search plans and results for a series of systematic reviews on the relationship between dietary patterns and health outcomes.

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