Conflicts of interest may bias research into sugary drinks and obesity

Researchers from Spain and Germany have investigated whether financial industry funding or the disclosure of potential conflicts of interest influenced the results of 17 published systematic reviews (SRs) conducted in the field of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and weight gain or obesity.

Those reviews with conflicts of interest were five times more likely to present a conclusion of no positive association than those without them (relative risk: 5.0, 95% CI: 1.3–19.3).

  • Among those reviews that report no financial support from food industry, 83.3% (10/12) concluded that SSB consumption could be a potential risk factor for weight gain
  • In contrast, the same percentage of conclusions, 83.3% (5/6) of those SRs disclosing some financial conflict of interest were that the scientific evidence was insufficient to support a positive association between SSB consumption and weight gain or obesity

This research is important as people frequently rely on the results of scientific research to make decisions about their daily life. We assume that the scientific research that underlies our decisions about health-related issues is unbiased and accurate. If research is biased by a conflict of interest then the results reported from these studies could be inaccurate.

Posted: 07/01/2014 10:14:44 by Laura Keaver


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