Requirements: Written report (2000 words) plus a 1 minute video summary

Assignment Due: Thursday 11 January by 11:59pm (Melbourne Time)

Assessment weighting: Written report: worth 35% of your final unit grade. Video summary: worth 5% of your final unit grade

Assignment details

The purpose of this assignment is to:

 become familiar with an emerging, topical and relevant nutritional issue in Australia;

 learn to search for, and critique, peer-reviewed scientific literature;

 assist in developing your nutrition communication skills.

You have been employed as a nutrition consultant by a food company that is interested in adding new ingredients to their current range of infant formulae. The ingredients in question are oligosaccharides which include galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), which are intended to simulate oligosaccharides naturally found in breast milk. There is some clinical evidence that these oligosaccharides may assist with the health and wellbeing of infants so they could be an important marketing differential from products made by other companies which don’t contain oligosaccharides.

The title of your report should be: Oligosaccharides: the case for and against the supplementation of infant formula

The following points need to be covered at some stage in your report:

1. What is the role of oligosaccharides such as galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) in the health and wellbeing of infants and indicate if there are any potential safety issues that may determine upper limits of addition to infant formulas?

2. Outline the weight of scientific evidence for a clinical benefit of oligosaccharide supplementation on infant health and wellbeing compared to formula without oligosaccharides. For this part, you need to take into account both positive (studies that show a benefit) and negative research (studies that didn’t show a benefit) and use the literature to develop an argument to inform your conclusion in part 3.

– If evidence is coming from large-scale long-term human randomised-controlled trials (RCTs) then this would be considered stronger evidence than studies conducted in animals or from observational research (such as cohort, case-control or cross-sectional studies).

– Evidence from systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses of RCTs are generally considered to be the highest form of evidence. – Almost all the references for your report should be coming from peer-reviewed scientific studies. If you mostly use websites as references then expect to be heavily marked down.

– You may need to consider different categories of infants (e.g. term vs pre-term infants) in considering the weight of evidence, but this would be your decision. 

– You may want to consider whether these ingredients are permitted in infant formulas in Australia and in overseas markets and investigate the regulatory and/or scientific rationale for their additional.

3. Include a brief summary/final recommendation to the company which is supported by your analysis presented in part

4. Your employer has asked you to summarise your main findings and recommendations from your report for a brief presentation to the company board. The board meets interstate, so you have been asked to record a one minute video summarising your recommendation of whether or not to add oligosaccharides to the infant formula, and the key points of your rationale.

Please note: this assignment is about comparing the merits of oligosaccharide supplemented versus unsupplemented infant formula. It is NOT about the merits of breastfeeding compared to formula feeding though you may include some discussion on this as a means of background, but breastfeeding should not be the focus of your article.

Assignment submission requirements

Your written report can be submitted in either a Word or PDF file format. Your video summary needs to be in a MP4 format. Each file needs to go into its own assignment dropbox.

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