As Dr. Nestle points out:
“When I read research studies involving specific foods or nutrients, I immediately look to see who paid for the study. Sponsorship almost invariably predicts the results of research. David Ludwig and his colleagues demonstrated this phenomenon in studies of the effects of soft drinks on childhood obesity. Independent studies almost invariably find an association between habitual consumption of soft drinks and obesity. By contrast, industry-sponsored studies almost never do.
In food research, as in research on drugs or cigarettes, results are highly likely to favor the sponsor’s interest. The companies are not buying the results, although it sometimes seems that way. Instead, it seems to me that researchers who are willing to accept grants from food companies tend to be less critical about the way they design their studies. I often notice that sponsored studies lack appropriately rigorous controls. One way to understand this is to suggest that scientists who accept corporate sponsorship have internalized the values of the sponsor so thoroughly that they think themselves independent.”
In order for registered dietitians to be perceived as credible sources of science-based information, it is imperative that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics establish policies that address this ever-growing concern.