Correlational and Intervention Effects of Egg Consumption on Macular Carotenoids, Cognition, and Achievement During Childhood (SHELL)


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign




Diet Habit
Cognitive Control


Other: Egg White Control
Other: Whole Egg Intervention

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


The aim of this study is to examine the correlational and intervention effects of egg consumption on macular carotenoids, cognition, and achievement during childhood. Initially, this will be done with correlational examination of egg consumption and macular carotenoids. Individuals with low carotenoid status will be invited to participant in a month-long egg-based dietary intervention aimed at improving carotenoid status.

Full description

Identification of foods that promote childhood cognitive function has the potential to have a lasting impact on children's long-term cognitive well-being. The nutrient profile in egg yolks, particularly the xanthophyll lutein, may be uniquely suitable for supporting important cognitive processes including attention, memory, and academic achievement. Lutein is the predominant carotenoid in the brain, comprising up to 77% of carotenoids in the brain. Further, lutein is among three xanthophylls that accumulate as macular pigment and protect the eye against photooxidative damage. Accordingly, this work aims to: 1) assess the correlational relationship between habitual egg consumption, macular pigment optical density (MPOD), neurocognitive function and achievement among 7-12-years-olds; and 2) conduct a 4-week egg intake randomized controlled intervention (7 whole eggs/week vs 7 egg whites/week) to investigate the effects of regular egg consumption on changes in MPOD and behavioral and neuroelectric measures of cognitive control and relational memory, and academic achievement among school-aged children. Male and female children between 7-12 years (n=240) will be recruited. All children will be allowed (i.e., regardless of level of MPOD) to participate to address aim 1. A subsample of participants (n=80 [40 per group]) with lower MPOD (i.e., ≤0.40) will be invited to enroll in a 4-week egg intake randomized controlled trial. Following baseline testing, participants will be randomly assigned to one of two intervention groups (7 whole eggs/week vs 7 egg whites/week) for a 4- week period. The investigators hypothesize that greater habitual egg consumption will be positively associated with MPOD and attention and memory and neural efficiency, and academic achievement. Further, the investigators anticipate that consuming whole eggs - via a 4-week intervention - will result in greater gains in behavioral and ERP cognitive measures and academic achievement, relative to egg white consumption. Finally, it is expected that cognitive benefits will correlate with change in MPOD, thereby establishing the importance of whole eggs for cognitive function and academic achievement in childhood. The successful completion of the proposed work is expected to generate new knowledge establishing the importance of regular whole egg consumption, specifically lutein induced changes in macular carotenoids, for improving performance in cognitive processes vital for learning and long-term scholastic success among school-aged children.


80 estimated patients




7 to 12 years old


Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • a. Parental/guardian consent b. Between 7-12 years c. Absence of physician diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder d. Normal or corrected-to-normal vision based on the minimal 20/20 standard f. Intervention Only: Absence of food allergies

Exclusion criteria

  • a. Parental/guardian non-consent b. Younger than 7 years or older than 12 years c. Physician diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder d. Uncorrected vision f. Intervention Only: Presence of food allergies

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Single Blind

80 participants in 2 patient groups, including a placebo group

Egg White Snacks
Placebo Comparator group
Egg white-based snacks
Other: Egg White Control
Whole Egg Snacks
Experimental group
Whole egg-based snacks
Other: Whole Egg Intervention

Trial contacts and locations



Central trial contact

Ginger Reeser, MS, RD; Caitlyn Edwards, BS

Data sourced from

Clinical trials

Find clinical trialsTrials by location
© Copyright 2024 Veeva Systems