Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Nutrition Journal and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Short report

Analysis of dietary interventions. A simple payoff matrix for display of comparative dietary trials

Richard D Feinman1*, Eugene J Fine12 and Jeff S Volek3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA

2 Department of Nuclear Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, USA

3 Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Nutrition Journal 2008, 7:24  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-7-24

Published: 29 August 2008



To provide a simple method for presentation of data in comparative dietary trials.


Individual data from each diet are ranked and all possible paired comparisons are made and displayed in a pay-off matrix which can be color-coded according to the magnitude of the differences between the two diets. Probability of outcome can be calculated from the fraction of matrix elements corresponding to specified conditions. The method has the advantage of emphasizing differences and providing the maximum amount of information.


The method was tested with values from the literature and allows intuitive sense of the comparative effectiveness of the two diets. In a test case in which a cross-over study had been performed the matrix derived from theoretical paired comparisons (treating the data as two parallel studies) was consistent with the results from the actual pairing in the cross-over.


The matrix method is a simple way of providing access to the differences between dietary trials. It exaggerates differences but can be used in combination with group statistics that, conversely, provide reliability at the expense of detailed information.