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Artificial sweetener research biased by industry money

Do not believe what you read about the benefits of artificial sweeteners.

That’s the message from the University of Sydney researchers whose recent analysis shows widespread bias – and therefore inaccurate – in research funded by the industry in fake sugars


The review, published in the latest edition of ONE Daily PLOS analyzed 31 studies on artificial sweeteners between 1978 and 2014. The studies considered both the potentially beneficial effects of sweeteners artificial, such as weight loss and adverse effects such as diabetes.

Document two possible sources of bias 1 was analyzed), which funded the study and 2) who authored the study (and if they had conflicts of interest because of links with the sweetener industry. Sweeteners under review were acesulfame potassium (E950), aspartame (E951), aspartame and acesulfame salt (E962), neotame (E961), saccharin (E954) and sucralose (E955).

This is the first major review of the effects of bias funding nutrition research bias Perkins Charles Center Research project node a new research collaboration aimed at improving of health policy, promoting impartial and evidence-based research.

What you need to know

A startling new analysis has found that the influence of the industry has skewed research data on artificial sweeteners.

Research with ties – either through funding or author loyalties – to the food industry was many times more likely to report positive benefits of sweeteners – even if the current study did not show this, and to minimize problems in its conclusions.

This is important because the results of these studies help food policy and how health and dictate the recommendations made to us about what – and what do not -.


Money talks

Researchers began by evaluating the relationship between funding and reviewing results of the review. They found that the artificial sweetener industry sponsored opinions were more likely to have favorable results (75% of cases) not critical industry-sponsored, including examinations revealed no funding (less than 5% of cases).

Regarding the relationship between opinion sponsorship and review the findings (ie, the summary at the end of the research, which is what tends to be reported), artificial sponsored reviews sweetener industry were more likely to have favorable conclusions (100% of the time) not critical industry-sponsored, including examinations without funding is disclosed, (about 65% of the time).

“It is alarming to see how much energy industry of artificial sweeteners have on the results of its funded research funds, not only data but also the findings of these studies emphasize the positive effects of artificial sweeteners’ neglecting to mention downside, “said co-author professor Lisa Bero, head node partiality Charles Perkins Center.

“The results of these studies are even more important than the conclusion, as actual results are used in the development of dietary guidelines.”

Conflicts of interest

Testing the hypothesis that the examinations conducted by the authors with a conflict of interest with the food industry are more likely to report favorable results, the researcher report:

“None of the nine reviews conducted by the authors without conflicts of interest reported favorable results, while four [18%] opinions with authors with conflicts of interest had favorable results,”

Comments made by the authors with a conflict of interest with the food industry were also more likely to report unclear results (50% of the time) than those conducted by the authors without conflicts of interest (12.5% the Times).

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Furthermore, the review indicates that 42% of authors had no conflicts of interest were disclosed in the published document.

“Our analysis shows that the claims made by companies of artificial sweeteners should be taken with a degree of skepticism, since many existing studies on artificial sweeteners seem to respond to sponsor demand to exaggerate the positive results even when carried out with standard methods. “said professor Bero

“Ultimately, consumers is that they lose this practice because our findings show that the results of the reviews of the health benefits of artificial sweeteners can not always trust them. Measures to eliminate the influence sponsor in nutrition research is desperately needed. “

More lies sweet

The study also claims that the reviews published in journals funded in part or in full by the food industry more often, the conclusions are favorable to artificially sweetened drinks that reviews published in journals not funded by industry .

The study, published in the same week that the investigation of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of California at San Francisco found that the sugar industry has paid for the influential research in the 1960s to belittle the relationship between sugar and coronary heart disease and instead of pointing big toe.

That stunning view of the historical documents published in JAMA raises serious questions about the legitimacy of scientific research funded by industry, and suggests that national dietary guidelines in last 50 years have skewed based on science.

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