Recent Question/Assignment

Unit Title Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods
28 April 2017
Learning outcomes to be assessed through this work 1. Analyse current global food trends and development of nutraceuticals and functional foods;
2. Apply the latest evidence of nutraceuticals and functional foods to generate new innovative food product ideas;
4. Produce an in-depth analytical research protocol or discussion paper for a peer-review journal.
Assessment Task:
Your brief is to individually produce a discussion paper relating to the development of a functional product with potential health benefits. It is up to you to choose a pertinent and feasible food and health area of interest.
Students will individually generate a 3500 word discussion paper relating to the development of a functional product with potential health benefits.
Instructions to Students:
Accredited nutritionists working within the food industry will be expected to provide a balanced opinion on a range of functional food areas, and when needed, contribute to the formulation and subsequent efficacy assessment of such products in human volunteers. Students are directed to approach their work from the viewpoint of a food industry professional involved the commercial development of functional food products, with EFSA approved health claims. In this context:
• Discussion papers would most likely address the current state of the art relative to a proposed functional food product range. Discussion papers are intended to give a balanced unbiased opinion of a subject area, hence a systematic review process is implied. However, such papers can also incorporate an element of primary research, such as economic analysis or consumer opinion.
Notes on written report: This should take the form of an academic paper, pitched at the industrial reader.
Abstract: Should succinctly and clearly outline the rationale, methodology and key findings of the study in 200-250 words. Up to 6 keywords should also be included.
Introduction: This should introduce the problem to be solved, its importance, and the general aims and specific objectives of the work.
Materials and Methods: In the case of a discussion paper, this section will include details of search strategy. Research protocol papers will require details of proposed methodologies. In the sake of brevity, students may refer the reader to the academic reference or standard for full details, but should still provide a brief outline of the parameters investigated i.e. “Briefly, tween was added to the standard stabiliser mix at a range of final concentrations (2-10 mM), and the mixes proofed and baked as per protocol. The resulting effects on texture were evaluated using……(etc.)”
Results and Discussion: The major part of the work; can be presented together or as two separate sections. Each set of results should be clearly described in tables or figures (with clear numbered titles, and where necessary, legend text), embedded in the paper itself (do not leave figures / tables at the end of the document). Key findings should be addressed in the text.
Conclusions and future work: Should be brief and to the point – should refer back to the original aims of the project. Future work suggestions should be sufficiently specific.
References: Harvard referencing
If you are interested in fibre and type 2 diabetes, then a logical progression would be to investigate the utility of a novel fibre in reducing post-prandial glycemic uptake. We have already discussed beta glucans in this role, but there are several novel soluble fibres that do not have an approved EFSA health claim in this area yet are the subject of several human intervention studies. These two factors could make for a compelling piece of work.
A title could run as follows: -Feasibility of pursuing article 13 claims pertaining to Acacia (Gum Arabic) and reduction of postprandial glycemic uptake”
You should use pubmed and/or web of science to see whether there is sufficient human intervention data and check if this fibre might be appropriate – if not, the key would be to pick a fibre that does not already have an approved claim for this effect, but does have a few human intervention studies in this area.
I believe I have given feedback to everyone who submitted a title for CW2. Comments varied between submissions, but I'd just like to make a few points that apply to most of you, particularly those doing the discussion paper.
1) For a discussion paper, remember that a systematic literature review approach is best. You do not have to be as strict as the folks at Cochrane reviews, however I should be able to see your search strategy, the number of papers returned, how many of these were included in the review and why the others were excluded. This should be in your methods section.
2) Most of you are dealing with data coming from controlled human intervention studies relating to a specific health outcome, and a specific food intervention. By definition, this is a niche area of research. Therefore, your search strategy should not return 1000's of papers. At the very most, I would expect each of you to extract data from 20 or so intervention papers, and probably fewer than that. If you are working in one of the few areas where dozens of interventions have been performed, you should carefully consider your inclusion criteria, and make these as stringent as possible in a way that best suits your research question.
3) You should consider the QUALITY of your controlled interventions. The JADAD scale (see is a quick way to assess this, and can help in determining what weight you place on the data from each study. Interventions that are not controlled are automatically considered of low quality.
4) Do not conflate food with medicines. Several of the proposals I read used terms like -treatment- and -disease prevention-. Legally, food cannot prevent or cure disease, but they CAN reduce risk factors for disease and maintain optimum health. If you are not sure about this, please consult the material from our first lecture.
5) The point of the work is that you have been asked to comment on a specific area, with relation to whether your company should invest time and resources pursuing a functional health claim. When considering how to construct an argument for or against your chosen interaction, remember the criteria set by PASSCLAIM. Also, remember that after a thorough review of the area, you may decide that more work needs to be done, or that the intervention material does not actually cause the physiological effect that you want. So long as your argument is well reasoned, and includes a suggestion of what action to take next, this is a perfectly valid conclusion.
6) A meta analysis is NOT required, however some students have attempted this in previous years. If you do chose to perform one, make sure that the studies in the pool are all comparable!
7) Above all, BE CRITICAL in your interpretation of the data you extract, thick carefully about what the data mean, and use this information to synthesize your OWN opinion. Many of you will tackle combinations of intervention material and physiological outcomes that have not been considered in a big literature review, so there is scope for some really novel work to be done.
Marking Scheme Assessment :
Element Mark
1. Abstract and Introduction
- Abstract: clear, concise summary of key data and conclusion in 250 words or less
- Effective use of background data literature to effectively introduce problem
- Clear aims and objectives 20%
2. Materials and methods
- Clear, concise with all pertinent technical details to enable experiments to be conducted / repeated
3. Results and Discussion
- All key data clearly presented, fully analysed using appropriate statistical methods
- Clear summarisation of core findings with good interpretation
- Well presented figures with clear, numbered titles, annotation / legend text where appropriate
- Excellent review of pertinent literature, used to properly contextualise core findings
- Evidence of synthesis, original thought and critical insight 40%
4. Conclusions
- Evidence of synthesis, original thought and critical insight
- Address aims and objectives
- Specific suggestions for further work 10%
5. Referencing
- Harvard referencing, properly formatted
- A range of good quality (appropriate) resources used
- References were cited accurately throughout the text
- No missing references 10%
6. Scientific writing, grammar and spelling
- Planned and logical structure
- Correct scientific language and notation. Appropriate tense used.
- Neatly presented text with no typos, grammatical errors 10%