Advances in nutrition
Traditional pairwise meta-analysis (PMA) is a very useful method that pools evidence from one study design type if appropriate; its widespread use in nutrition research is an important phenomenon. Recently, a promising method for more advanced evidence-synthesis, called network meta-analysis (NMA), was introduced. NMA is an extension of PMA that enables simultaneous comparison of multiple interventions. ⋯ Moreover, we aim to highlight the scientific concepts and standards through the use of the following NMA example: "Which type of oils/solid fats offers the greatest impact on blood lipids?" In this regard, we discuss intervention definitions, transitivity/similarity, statistical methods, description and visualization of results, inconsistency, ranking, dissemination bias, assessing the certainty of evidence by Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation, and reporting guidelines. We expect that rigorously conducted NMAs based on high-quality systematic reviews will become the new evidence synthesis benchmark in nutrition research. However, caution is warranted because abuse and misinterpretations of PMA and NMA findings could hamper the scientific field and possibly decision-making regarding public policy.