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Study sponsorship and the nutrition research agenda: analysis of randomized controlled trials included in systematic reviews of nutrition interventions to address obesity

  • Alice Fabbri (a1) (a2), Nicholas Chartres (a2), Gyorgy Scrinis (a3) and Lisa A Bero (a2)

Abstract

Objective

To categorize the research topics covered by a sample of randomized controlled trials (RCT) included in systematic reviews of nutrition interventions to address obesity; to describe their funding sources; and to explore the association between funding sources and nutrition research topics.

Design

Cross-sectional study.

Subjects

RCT included in Cochrane Reviews of nutrition interventions to address obesity and/or overweight.

Results

Two hundred and thirteen RCT from seventeen Cochrane Reviews were included. Funding source and authors’ conflicts of interest were disclosed in 82·6 and 29·6 % of the studies, respectively. RCT were more likely to test an intervention to manipulate nutrients in the context of reduced energy intake (44·2 % of studies) than food-level (11·3 %) and dietary pattern-level (0·9 %) interventions. Most of the food industry-sponsored studies focused on interventions involving manipulations of specific nutrients (66·7 %). Only 33·1 % of the industry-funded studies addressed dietary behaviours compared with 66·9 % of the non-industry-funded ones (P=0·002). The level of food processing was poorly considered across all funding sources.

Conclusions

The predominance of RCT examining nutrient-specific questions could limit the public health relevance of rigorous evidence available for systematic reviews and dietary guidelines.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Email lisa.bero@sydney.edu.au

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Study sponsorship and the nutrition research agenda: analysis of randomized controlled trials included in systematic reviews of nutrition interventions to address obesity

  • Alice Fabbri (a1) (a2), Nicholas Chartres (a2), Gyorgy Scrinis (a3) and Lisa A Bero (a2)

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