A comprehensive review of 15 years’ worth of research revealed that if a study finds no link between sugar and metabolic diseases Big Soda probably underwrote or funded it. By contrast, the industry sponsored just 3 percent of studies that did link added sugar to negative health outcomes. The findings shocked researchers that co-authored the study.
UC San Francisco scientists concluded the industry “manipulates” scientific research for the benefit of their business. And it does it despite the risks for the public’s health. The team also thinks that the sugary drink industry is fueling the controversy over the health effects of sugary drinks.
Researchers found that 43 percent of studies failed to find a link between soda consumption and obesity or other metabolic conditions. Additionally, even though 57 percent of studies found a link, the evidence was rather iffy.
Researchers suspect scientists who have ties with the industry or receive Big Soda money can skew research for their sponsors. And the changes in data can be so subtle they can go unnoticed.
NY University ‘s Marion Nestle concluded it is “way to simple” for the industry to obtain the desired results nowadays. Moreover, funding alone often leads to unconscious and unwitting skewing of these studies, Nestle added.
The researcher argued that this was proven in trials that Big Pharma had funded. Nestle recommends readers to ask themselves who funded the study if a product looks almost too good to be true.
Across the world, sweetened-beverage makers sell up to $800 billion worth of drinks every year. Of these beverages, 65 percent contain either sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
Big Soda can fund studies either directly or via the industry group American Beverage Assn. This is how companies such as PepsiCo, Dr Pepper, and Coca-Cola support research across the nation.
Currently, the industry is interested in silencing the studies that reveal a link between their products and a spike in obesity and diabetes rates worldwide.
The Industry’s Response
The American Beverage Assn. commented on the findings Monday. It said that it has a right and responsibility to get involved in scientific research. The group assured the public that the studies it funds meet the highest quality and integrity standards. Also, the studies Big Soda funds reportedly enable customers to make informed decisions.
Th recent review is the first study to focus on the industry’s ties with research on the health risks sugary drinks pose. The research team focused on 60 clinical studies. They first looked for a link between soda consumption and obesity or type 2 diabetes.
Next, they looked for a link between studies that were favorable to the industry and the industry’s money. And they found plenty of it. Now, study authors caution that the practice of sponsoring research that helps business has wider implications. For instance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture which drafts dietary guidelines for Americans every five years does not think industry funding negatively affects research.
Image Source: Pixabay