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NewsBites January 2017 Issue

Sugary Soda Health Risks: Downplayed by Industry-Funded Research?

According to a recent analysis, 97% of studies that were independently funded (not sponsored by beverage makers) have reported that drinking sugary sodas is linked with obesity and diabetes. The same analysis showed that 100% (26 of 26) of studies that reported the drinks had no link to poor health were done by researchers with financial ties to soda makers.

How can such presumed bias happen? "Without seeing the primary data and without seeing what was ‘behind the curtain' in the complex scientific process of doing these industry-funded studies, we cannot even guess as to the myriad ways that the science could be manipulated," says Dean Schillinger, MD, the lead investigator and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. "For example, since most studies have multiple findings, the researchers may decide to only report favorable outcomes and not report those that are unfavorable."

His analysis, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, included 60 clinical trials and systematic reviews of trials from 2001 to July 2016. Research bias could discourage policies, such as soda taxes, to curb soda intake.

TO LEARN MORE: Annals of Internal Medicine, Nov. 2016 -

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