Reducing Potential Bias in Industry-Funded Nutrition Research

Medical journals have taken significant steps to address conflicts of interest in food industry-sponsored nutrition research.

This letter to the editor addresses proposals from an article previously published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The article proposed several guidelines for dealing with conflicts of interest in food industry-sponsored nutrition research. The author of this letter, Lenard I. Lesser, outlines what medical journals have done to reduce the potential for bias. He draws a distinction between bias that is rooted in scientific belief or political opinion and bias that is financially motivated. Dr. Lesser proposes that journals formulate comprehensive policies to address conflicts of interest.

Key Findings:

  • Medical journals have already begun to prohibit the publication of food industry-sponsored articles.
  • Journals are requiring authors to disclose all financial, personal and professional conflicts that arose within five years of the start of research.
  • Many journals now require that statistical analyses performed by industry researchers be accompanied by independent analyses conducted by researchers not employed by the sponsor.

This letter to the editor suggests that medical journal policies can reduce financially-biased research. The author calls for research to determine whether current policies are effective.