Perspective: US Documentation and Regulation of Human Nutrition Randomized Controlled Trials

Adv Nutr. 2021 Feb 1;12(1):21-45. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmaa118.


Training to ensure good documentation practices and adherence to regulatory requirements in human nutrition randomized controlled trials has not been given sufficient attention. Furthermore, it is difficult to find this information conveniently organized or in a form relevant to nutrition protocols. Current gaps in training and research surveillance exist in clinical nutrition research because training modules emphasize drugs and devices, promote reliance on monitoring boards, and lack nutrition expertise on human nutrition research teams. Additionally, because eating is essential, ongoing, and highly individualized, it is difficult to distinguish risks associated with interventions from eating under free-living conditions. Controlled-feeding trials provide an option to gain more experimental control over food consumed, but at a price of less external validity, and may pose human behavior issues that are unrelated to the intervention. This paper covers many of the expected practices for documentation and regulation that may be encountered in planning and conducting nutrition intervention trials with examples and references that should be useful to clinical nutrition researchers, funders of research, and research institutions. Included are definitions and guidance on clinical nutrition research oversight (institutional review boards, data safety and monitoring boards, US FDA); participant safety; standard operating procedures; training of investigators, staff, and students; and local culture and reporting requirements relevant to diet-related clinical research conduct and documentation.

Keywords: data safety and monitoring boards; diet; documentation; institutional review boards; investigational new drugs; nutrition; randomized controlled trials; regulation; scientific integrity; standard operating procedures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Diet*
  • Documentation
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Research Personnel