News Releases & Statements
Article on Funding Sources of Nutrition-Related Scientific Studies Disregards Integrity of Respected Journals
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2007
ARTICLE ON FUNDING SOURCES OF NUTRITION-RELATED SCIENTIFIC STUDIES DISREGARDS INTEGRITY OF RESPECTED JOURNALS
WASHINGTON—An article published today in the online Journal of PLOS Medicine suggesting that industry-funded nutrition-related scientific studies may bias conclusions fails to look at the merits of the science in those studies and disregards the integrity of the peer-review process enforced by the highly regarded scientific journals.
“This is yet another attack on industry by activists who demonstrate their own biases in their review by looking only at the funding source and not judging the research on its merits,” said Susan K. Neely, president and chief executive officer of the American Beverage Association (ABA). “The science is what matters—nothing else.”
In the review article, “Relationship between Funding Source and Conclusion among Nutrition-Related Scientific Articles,” the authors retrieved 538 articles on soft drinks, juice and milk published between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2003. The authors then exclude more than half of those articles retrieved (332) and fail to cite which research was included in their review. In addition, the methodology of the review is subjective with judgment criteria not based on science, but rather the investigators’ own views.
“By not disclosing the studies examined, it is entirely possible that articles were excluded simply because they did not prove the authors’ point,” Neely said. “In addition, a bias may be present by failing to disclose that one of the authors is actually on the editorial board of the publication.”
The authors of this article frequently criticize beverages and the beverage industry. In fact, one could turn the authors’ arguments around by noting that all the pertinent articles or studies that they have put forth through the years have been critical of beverages or industry—a clear reflection of their own biases and their motivations behind this latest article.
When ABA funds studies, decisions about the design, statistical analysis, results or conclusions are left entirely to the researcher to ensure that no bias exists. ABA also insists that its funding of studies be fully disclosed and that studies it funds be published in a peer-reviewed publication. ABA-funded studies have been published in many highly respected journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Risk Analysis and Nutrition Today.
Additionally, many ABA-funded studies analyze government databases, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII), and can be replicated if so desired. It also must be recognized that many of the findings of industry-funded studies have been supported by non-industry or government studies.
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The American Beverage Association is the trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States.