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FNH 477 - Nutrition and Disease Prevention

MeSH Video Part 1

MeSH Video 2

MeSH definition

What are Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)?

Subject specialists describe each article in the MEDLINE database using terms from a standardized list. These terms are called Medical Subject Headings or MeSH. MeSH groups articles about the same topic under the same subject headings, making it easier to find relevant material. 

MeSH consists of subject terms in a hierarchical structure which allows for searching at various levels of specificity. At the most general level of the hierarchical structure are very broad headings such as... "Therapeutics" 

e.g. Therapeutics

            Nutrition Therapy

                  Diet Therapy

                       Caloric Restriction


or the broad heading such as "Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases"

e.g. Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases

            Metabolic Diseases

                  Glucose Metabolism Disorders

                        Diabetes Mellitus

More specific headings are found at more narrow levels of the twelve-level hierarchy, such as "Caloric Restriction" or "Glucose Metabolism Disorders". There are 26,853 descriptors in 2013 MeSH. There are also over 213,000 entry terms that assist in finding the most appropriate MeSH Heading, for example, "Vitamin C" is an entry term to "Ascorbic Acid." (Source: MESH Fact Sheet)


Why Use MeSH?

MeSH allows you to power search within Medline (OvidSP) and PubMed. Ensure your search is complete and comprehensive by using MeSH and a keyword search strategy.


Note: Check the scope note for your MeSH term to ensure you have the correct term!

MeSH related to nutrition and health

Here is a list of potentially useful Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) with their associated scope notes for searching in MEDLINE.

  • Food-Drug Interactions - The pharmacological result, either desirable or undesirable, of drugs interacting with components of the diet.
  • Nutritional Status - State of the body in relation to the consumption and utilization of nutrients.
  • Malnutrition - An imbalanced nutritional status resulted from insufficient intake of nutrients to meet normal physiological requirement.
  • Nutrition Disorders - Disorders caused by nutritional imbalance, either overnutrition or undernutrition.
  • Health Status - The level of health of the individual, group, or population as subjectively assessed by the individual or by more objective measures.
  • Risk Assessment - The qualitative or quantitative estimation of the likelihood of adverse effects that may result from exposure to specified health hazards or from the absence of beneficial influences.
  • Risk Factors - An aspect of personal behavior or lifestyle, environmental exposure, or inborn or inherited characteristic, which, on the basis of epidemiologic evidence, is known to be associated with a health-related condition considered important to prevent.
  • Socioeconomic Factors - Social and economic factors that characterize the individual or group within the social structure.
  • Time Factors - Elements of limited time intervals, contributing to particular results or situations. e.g. daily use of supplement

MeSH and keywords related to research methods

Retrospective Chart Review

  • Retrospective Studies [MeSH]
  • exp Medical Records [MeSH]
  • "chart review" [keyword]

Practice Standard

  • Practice Guideline [MeSH publication type]
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic [MeSH] - may be more useful
  • Standards [Subheading to be used with topic]

Validated Screening Tool

  • Nutritional Assessment [MeSH] - NT Nutrition Surveys (and even more NT Diet Survey)
  • Questionnaires [MeSH] - NT Self Report [MeSH]
  • Mass Screening [MeSH]
  • “Reproducibility of Results” [MeSH]

Analysis of Existing Data

  • Registries [MeSH]
  • Databases, Factual [MeSH]
  • "existing data" [keyword]

MeSH related to nutrition and disease therapy

Diet Therapy By adjusting the quantity and quality of food intake to improve health status of an individual. NOTE: GEN only: prefer /diet ther with disease term (NT specific diets e.g. Caloric Restriction)

     Diet Therapy Subheading. Used with disease headings for dietary and nutritional management of the disease. The concept does not include vitamin or mineral supplements, for which "drug therapy" may be used.

     e.g. Diabetes Mellitus/dh [Diet Therapy]

     Drug Therapy Subheading. Used with disease headings for the treatment or prevention of disease by the administration of drugs, chemicals, and antibiotics [including Vitamins].

Dietary Supplements. Products in capsule, tablet or liquid form that provide essential nutrients, such as a vitamin, an essential mineral, a protein, an herb, or similar nutritional substance. 

Nutritional Support The administration of nutrients for assimilation and utilization by a patient by means other than normal eating. Used for artificial feeding.