WEDNESDAY, Dec. 16, 2020 — It’s common for studies in leading nutrition journals to have ties with the food industry, and such studies are more likely to have findings that support industry interests, researchers report.
They reviewed all peer-reviewed studies published in 2018 in the 10 most-cited nutrition and diet-related academic journals.
The researchers found that 13.4% of the more than 1,400 studies reported that they had connections with the food industry, such as funding from food makers or authors linked with food companies.
Compared to a random sample of 196 studies without food industry involvement, those with industry ties were more than five times more likely to report results that favored food industry interests (55.6% vs. 9.7%), according to the study published Dec. 16 in the journal PLOS ONE.
“This study found that the food industry is commonly involved in published research from leading nutrition journals,” said author Gary Sacks, an associate professor at Deakin University, in Melbourne, Australia.
“Where the food industry is involved, research findings are nearly six times more likely to be favorable to their interests than when there is no food industry involvement,” he said in a journal news release.
Food companies might become involved in nutrition research to help generate new knowledge. For example, they might provide funding for academic research or lend employees to research teams.
But these findings add to mounting evidence that food industry involvement in studies could tilt research agendas or findings towards benefiting the industry, and potentially exclude topics that are more important to public health.
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