Development of a publicly available, comprehensive database of fiber and health outcomes: Rationale and methods

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Abstract

Background Dietary fiber is a broad category of compounds historically defined as partially or completely indigestible plant-based carbohydrates and lignin with, more recently, the additional criteria that fibers incorporated into foods as additives should demonstrate functional human health outcomes to receive a fiber classification. Thousands of research studies have been published examining fibers and health outcomes. Objectives (1) Develop a database listing studies testing fiber and physiological health outcomes identified by experts at the Ninth Vahouny Conference; (2) Use evidence mapping methodology to summarize this body of literature. This paper summarizes the rationale, methodology, and resulting database. The database will help both scientists and policy-makers to evaluate evidence linking specific fibers with physiological health outcomes, and identify missing information. Methods To build this database, we conducted a systematic literature search for human intervention studies published in English from 1946 to May 2015. Our search strategy included a broad definition of fiber search terms, as well as search terms for nine physiological health outcomes identified at the Ninth Vahouny Fiber Symposium. Abstracts were screened using a priori defined eligibility criteria and a low threshold for inclusion to minimize the likelihood of rejecting articles of interest. Publications then were reviewed in full text, applying additional a priori defined exclusion criteria. The database was built and published on the Systematic Review Data Repository (SRDR™), a web-based, publicly available application. Conclusions A fiber database was created. This resource will reduce the unnecessary replication of effort in conducting systematic reviews by serving as both a central database archiving PICO (population, intervention, comparator, outcome) data on published studies and as a searchable tool through which this data can be extracted and updated.

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Livingston, K. A., Chung, M., Sawicki, C. M., Lyle, B. J., Wang, D. D., Roberts, S. B., & McKeown, N. M. (2016). Development of a publicly available, comprehensive database of fiber and health outcomes: Rationale and methods. PLoS ONE, 11(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0156961

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