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Issue #76 (February 2021)

From the Editor

While I like every issue of NERD we publish, I think this issue stands out for three reasons.

The first is that we cover some higher-than-average quality studies in this issue. The study that looked at how a high-fat ketogenic diet affected caloric intake compared to a higher-carb diet stood out to me for its tight control, which is both a boon and a bane. While a strong control is useful for determining causality, the conditions don’t necessarily reflect real-world diet patterns. But since the point of the study was to evaluate the carbohydrate-insulin theory of obesity, it was well-suited to its specific task.

While tightly controlled nutrition research is nice to see, it isn’t all that rare to see in NERD compared to landmark trials—studies that have a big sample size, last a long time, and are very well designed. In this issue, we cover two such trials.

These trials are usually named with contrived acronyms. These names, while awkward, make them easier to refer to. The two landmark trials covered in this issue are the DO-HEALTH (Vitamin D3-Omega-3-Home Exercise-Healthy Aging and Longevity Trial) and STRENGTH (Statin Residual Risk Reduction With Epanova in High CV Risk Patients With Hypertriglyceridemia) trials. Those acronyms are so tortured that they probably violate the Geneva Conventions!

DO-HEALTH was designed to examine how either a home strength training regimen or supplementation with omega-3s or vitamin D affected several measures of mental and physical health in older people. STRENGTH examined how a specific brand of pharmaceutical-grade fish oil (Epanova, a mix of EPA and DHA) affected cardiovascular disease risk in people at high risk who were already taking statins.

This brings me to the third reason why this issue stands out: both STRENGTH and DO-HEALTH came up mostly empty-handed. While I think it’s super important to cover trials with null results, we usually cover those trials quickly in NERD. But when major trials are published and don’t find much of an effect, I think it’s worth emphasizing this null in a full review. It’s worth the space to lay out why the researchers came up with zilch and how those results compare to the broader literature.

I hope you find these null results as interesting as I do.

Gregory Lopez, MA, PharmD
Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Examination Research Digest

See other articles in Issue #76 (February 2021) of Study Deep Dives.