Food "Conspiracy" Theory
by Racer X Virtual Trainer
|Sometimes researchers can be a little reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them.|
The phrase "according to a recent study" bears a lot of weight in the minds of consumers. Certainly if research has been done proving that a food can make you better, faster or stronger, it must be true! A recent blog post from Precision Nutrition's Helen Kollias, challenges this notion and encourages readers to consider where the funding for the research many trust blindly is coming from. In "Research, Big Food, and Science: Cooking Up a Conspiracy?" Kollias suggests that the powerful food companies that often fund these studies have a vested interest in seeing that their newest product comes out on top. Scientists find themselves in a difficult position- "scientific conflict of interest." If their findings are not in favor of the company that funds them, they run the risk of loosing their grant money.
Scientists sometimes even go so far as to participate in "ghostwriting." This is when the company funding the research writes some or part of the researcher's findings for them and then has the article published under the name of the scientist. Since one McGill University professor confessed to being involved in ghostwriting in 2000, dozens of other studies involving pharmaceutical giant, Wyeth, have been found to have been written in part or completely by a writing firm Wyeth hired.
Since this controversy, a group called the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) North America Working Group on Guiding Principles has been put together to address this problem. The team of scientists, government officials and private company heads has come up with some guidelines to avoid "scientific conflict of interest." Some of them include requiring the company and the research group to write up a contract before research begins, not getting bonuses for favoring the company's product and granting control of research design to the scientist and not the company.
Kollias offers tips for consumers like us when reading studies. Checking for affiliations at the beginning of articles can clue you in to who is involved in making the study possible. At the end of the article before the references appear is a statement regarding where the scientists are getting their money from.
While it is difficult to remove all bias from studies, being aware of where these studies are coming from is a great step in becoming a more informed consumer.
To read the article in its entirety check out www.precisionnutrition.com/food-research-conflict.
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.