In some cases, food companies can get involved through the use of so-called “face groups,” third-party organizations that are cursed with innocuous-like names. (Until recently, for example, Coca-Cola funded a face-to-face group called the Global Energy Balance Network that researched obesity.) Sacks and his team included face-to-face groups in the their definition of business involvement.
“It is sometimes difficult to see when you are looking at who is funding a study, if you are [they] they are related to the food industry, ”he said. “So when we saw a paper funded by a random group, the challenge was really digging in, going to their website and seeing who is funding them. Because the food industry is often trying to hide that. ”
One could argue that there is nothing wrong with business support for research, while contributing to our understanding of nutrition. But some say a lack of a strong firewall between funding and decisions can jeopardize the integrity of a diet study.
“Business impact is applied at an uninformed level,” Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University, said in an email. Nestle is the author of the 2018 book Inconsistent truth, which outlines the impact of the food industry in research and announced an introductory version of Sacks research. “Inspectors did not intend to influence them, do not acknowledge that they have been affected, and do not deny the effect.”