Is Nutrition Research Too Cozy With the Industry?
How do you know which studies to trust?
Fitness Journal relies heavily on the latest nutrition research for our reporting. But we understand that this type of research is constantly evolving, and some results may be swayed by who is writing the checks.
A paper published in PLOS ONE reports that of the 1,400-plus studies analyzed in many of the top nutrition science journals in 2018, about 13% had connections to the food industry—and of those, more than 55% reported findings favorable to business interests. Less than 10% of articles without industry involvement did so.
This appears to be the first study to comprehensively address the extent of industry involvement in leading nutrition science journals. It raises concerns that the industry may be manipulating research by influencing what research questions are asked and how studies are designed. Still, that leaves 87% of studies without a direct industry link, so such influence is hardly universal. And many food scientists will say that industry funding for nutrition research is necessary because it’s expensive to conduct and government support is falling behind.
May 2021 Question of the Month
Were you aware that the food and beverage industry was involved in determining the direction of some nutrition research? Do you still have confidence in nutrition research and believe it can steer us toward the optimal way to eat? Do we need more transparency about who is funding research? Should journals scrutinize industry-funded research to a greater degree or even step away from publishing it?
Send your answers to Sandy Todd Webster at [email protected], or comment below!
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