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Conflict of interest in nutrition research

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Research snapshot1

All scientists have an academic conflict of interest (COI) in that the impact of their research, their ability to attract research funding, and perhaps keep their jobs, depend on their having research success. Most discussion about COI focuses on funding received from industry. The food industry has steadily increased its investment in externally targeted research; academics are drawn to such funds as they are less arduous to apply for, often offer a greater chance of being funded, and can lead to long-term funding collaborations. All industries work toward their own profit and the food industry is no exception. As a group of editors, the authors reflect on how to progress the outcomes of industry-funded research that may lead to healthy debate within the nutrition community. In their view, a paper with a COI should be published if it has been internally and externally peer reviewed and meets the journal’s standards. When a paper is received with a clearly declared COI that has an interesting hypothesis and that addresses an area of current debate or hopes to confirm the clinical benefits of a nutritional product (and that passes ethics and writing quality standards), the authors will categorise it as one of the following: (1) financed by industry with a clear declaration that the industry was not involved in the study hypothesis/design, execution, analysis or interpretation; (2) sponsored by industry with a clear declaration that industry was involved in the above, with industry involvement clearly outlined; (3) funded and conducted by industry with no external partners. Papers in categories (1) and (2 ) will need to demonstrate the transparence of industry funding, academic independence and public access to raw data. Once published, category (1) papers will appear as standard and categories (2) and (3) will appear under the subject category ‘Industry Research’. This new subject category will signal papers with a strong but declared COI. The reader can then make a judgement on the veracity of the findings and the overall message of that paper.

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Endnotes

1Soares, M.J., Müller, M.J., Boeing, H., Maffeis, C., Misrsa, A., Muscogiuri, G., Muthayya, S., Newsholmes, P., Wolever, T., and Zhu, S. (2019). Conflict of interest in nutrition research: an editorial perspective. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2019) 73:1213–1215 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-019-0488-8

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Conflict of interest in nutrition research. Field Exchange 61, November 2019. p36. www.ennonline.net/fex/61/conflictofinterest

(fex.61.545)

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