By Eric Rumsey and Janna Lawrence
As discussed in a previous article, searching for Food, Diet, and Nutrition in PubMed is tricky because the relevant Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) for the subject are scattered widely in the classification scheme. To do a thorough search, therefore, it’s necessary to use a number of terms. To make this easier, we have created a search strategy, or hedge, that combines most of the Food-Diet-Nutrition terms in one search.
The hedge search, of course, is much too large to be useful by itself (it gets over 1.5 million citations in PubMed). So it’s intended to be combined with another subject. A typical example would be finding the nutritional aspects of a disease.
Here is the hedge:
food OR foods OR beverages OR diet OR dietary OR vitamin OR vitamins OR nutrition OR nutritional OR nutrition disorders OR food industry OR nutritional physiological phenomena OR dietary fats OR dietary proteins OR feeding behavior
To use this search, click this link. You can also copy the text above and paste it into the PubMed search box. If you have a personal “My NCBI” account in PubMed, the hedge search can be saved for later use, or it can be made into a search filter. For information on setting up and using saved searches, see here; for more information on filters, see here.
List of terms in the hedge. Terms on the list that have no accompanying text are searched only as text-words (words appearing in article titles or abstracts), and as words that are part of MeSH terms.Terms below that are found in MeSH (which are also automatically searched as text-words) have brief commentary.
- Food – MeSH term Food is a very large explosion. (An “explosion” is a MeSH term that, when searched in PubMed, also retrieves closely related terms that are narrower in scope. These related terms can be seen when the term is searched in the MeSH database linked to PubMed.)
- Beverages – MeSH term Beverages is a large explosion
- Diet – MeSH term Diet is a large explosion
- Vitamins – Vitamins is a MeSH term and explosion, although the only specific vitamin included in its explosion is Vitamin B Complex. Many vitamins do have the word “vitamin” in their MeSH term, so they are picked up by the word “vitamin” above.
- Nutrition disorders – MeSH term Nutrition disorders is a large explosion
- Food industry – MeSH term Food industry is a large explosion
- Nutritional Physiological Phenomena – MeSH term Nutritional Physiological Phenomena is a large explosion
- Dietary Fats – MeSH term Dietary Fats is a medium explosion
- Dietary Proteins – MeSH term Dietary Proteins is a medium explosion
- Feeding behavior – Most of the terms in the Feeding Behavior explosion are picked up by other search words in the hedge linked above. But the MeSH term itself picks up a few unique, useful citations.
Disclaimer: This hedge is not ALL-inclusive for Food-Diet-Nutrition. As complicated as the subject is, it’s not possible to include all of the relevant terms in one search. This is especially the case because most plant-based foods are not in any category that can be searched together. The Food explosion does include many specific foods, but most plant-based foods are only in the Plants explosion, and not in the Food explosion. For tips on searching for plant-based foods, see here.