Influential articles about nutritional research are widely publicized. What is not so well known to consumers is the fact that a number of the research is funded by industry, which introduces test bias into the results, which can have far reaching implications. These results influence dietary recommendations, the department of public health, or regulations by the Food and Drug administration. The articles are widely publicized and also influence consumers’ choices.
Dr. Daniel Ludwig, author and director of the Optimal Weight For Life program at the Children’s’ Hospital in Boston, which is a Harvard medical institution, looked at 206 interventional and observational studies as well as scientific reviews. All of them were related to milk, soft drinks and juices. All the material was published between 1999 and 2003. The category was chosen, because these drinks are widely consumed by children and adolescents. There has been a considerable amount of controversy about the health risks and health benefit of these drinks. The soft drink industry is large and highly profitable, and the authors concluded that in this environment scientific bias could likely occur.
Of the 206 studies only 111 submitted the source of financial sponsorship. One third of them had mixed sponsorships, half of them were not sponsored by the industry and one in five was industry sponsored. Results showed, that industry sponsored research was 4 to 8 times more likely to be in favor of the companies’ products than those where the studies had independent financial funding.
During the study period the researchers who declared the source of funding or a conflict of interest rose from 50 to 80 %.
Dr. Ludwig and his team suggested that there is the potential to public health harm, unless there is increased government funding available for nutritional research through a peer review process such as that at the National Institute of Health.
More information about sugar substitutes: http://www.askdrray.com/yes-there-are-healthy-sugar-substitutes/
Reference: BMJ 2007; 334:62, 13 January
Last edited November 2, 2014