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Can following a vegetarian diet reduce the occurrence of the common cold? An observational study is being planned to compare the average number of colds self-proclaimed vegetarians suffer from each year with the average number of colds non-vegetarians suffer from each year.

Which of the following represents the biggest problem with this type of study?

A

Blinding is not possible since the individuals in the study will know whether or not they are vegetarian.

B

It will be impossible to see if there is a relationship between following a vegetarian diet and the occurrence of the common cold.

C

Confounding could occur. Perhaps vegetarians get fewer colds because they try to follow a healthier overall lifestyle than non-vegetarians.

D

Undercoverage could occur since individuals who are following other specific types of diets (like gluten free or low fat diets) are not specifically included in the study.

E

The placebo effect may cause individuals to feel like they do not have a cold when really they do.

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