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Great but Hidden: PubMed’s New Diet, Food, and Nutrition Explosion

By Eric Rumsey, Janna Lawrence and Xiaomei Gu

As we have written, NLM made a great improvement in introducing the new explosion for Diet, Food, and Nutrition. Before that was introduced this year, each of the three elements in the explosion had to be searched separately because they were not in the same explosion. So we strongly endorse the new explosion!

Although it is less difficult to search for nutrition articles now, there is still a problem. The term mapping feature of PubMed does not work for the word “nutrition,” which is certainly a common way to search for the broad subject comprised by the new explosion.

Image 1. Search Details for Heart Attack.

In most cases in PubMed, if the user searches a word or term that’s synonymous with the appropriate MeSH term, the system will automatically include the MeSH term in the search. An example of this is searching for the term heart attack (without quotes).

As shown in Image 1, PubMed automatically maps the word to the appropriate MeSH term – “myocardial infarction” [MeSH Terms]. (To see Search details, on the PubMed search results screen, scroll down to the “Search details” box, in the right side-bar). Another example of PubMed’s automatic mapping is cancer, which maps to neoplasms [MeSH Terms].

Image 2. Search Details for Nutrition.

A search for the word nutrition retrieves several phrases and MeSH terms, seen in the Search details in Image 2. But this does not include the new explosion Diet, Food, and Nutrition, which would retrieve many more relevant articles than these terms do.

There are two conceivable ways that NLM could address this problem. The first is to change the name of the explosion to Nutrition, so that mapping the word would not be necessary. The second solution is to make the word nutrition map to the new explosion. We encourage NLM to consider these options, so that the full power of the new explosion can be released!