Financial Interests Biases Research
A recent study looked at how “a financial conflict of interest” could influence the results of a research study. The authors looked at the results of 17 “published systematic reviews (SRs) conducted in the field of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and weight gain or obesity.”
Not surprisingly, over 80% of the reviews that were funded by a member of the food industry concluded that “the scientific evidence was insufficient to support a positive association between SSB consumption and weight gain or obesity.” Conversely, over 80% of those reviews conducted without a financial conflict of interest concluded that “SSB consumption could be a potential risk factor for weight gain.”
The study found that “those reviews with conflicts of interest were five times more likely to present a conclusion of no positive association than those without them.” Given the propensity of manufacturers to conduct research on their own products, consumers need to be looking at who funded the study before they consider the results valid.