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World J Methodol. 2015 Dec 26;5(4):175-8. doi: 10.5662/wjm.v5.i4.175. eCollection 2015 Dec 26.

Conflicts of interest in nutritional sciences: The forgotten bias in meta-analysis.

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Michel Lucas, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Université Laval, Population Health and Optimal Health Practices Research Unit, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec, Québec G1V 2M2, Canada.


Awareness of conflicts of interest (COI) in medicine began in the 1980s. More recently, the problem has gained notoriety in nutritional sciences. COI with industry could bias study conclusions in the context of research activities and scientific publications on nutritional sciences. The issue of COI in nutritional sciences deserves more attention and requires careful analyses as biased information can negatively impact the development of dietary guidelines and, ultimately, population health. Decision-making is generally based on available, published evidence, but when the results are ambivalent, it is easier to opt for the status quo and ask for more studies. Readers might wonder if research is subsidized by industry as a counterbalancing strategy based on levels of evidence-only to slow down eminent positions and/or legislation on the food sector? How can this problem be overcome without producing paranoia and McCarthyism while trying to be as methodological as possible?


Bias; Conflicts of interest; Meta-analysis; Nutrition; Nutritional sciences; Systematic reviews

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