In a June 21, 2011, ABC News article, reporters Dan Harris and Maggy Patrick call into question the results of renowned scientists’ studies due to financial ties to big food and beverage entities like Coca-Cola, Kraft, McDonald’s and more. In the lead example, the reporters reference scientist David Alison, who says there is not enough “solid evidence” that soda is a significant contributing factor to America’s obesity epidemic, despite numerous studies to the contrary:
David Allison is a renowned scientist who runs an obesity research center at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He has a 108-page resume and was honored at the White House.
But even though study after study have shown soda to be a significant contributor to America’s staggering obesity crisis, he says there is too little “solid evidence.”
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control last week warned teenagers to cut down on their soda consumption, citing studies that show soda contributes to obesity and other health problems such as diabetes.
How Research Can Feed Doubt
Allison has said such studies haven’t been rigorous enough to prove soda contributes to obesity, but critics say his skepticism stems from his financial ties to entities such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi and the American Beverage Association, who, critics say, have paid Allison to poke holes in the scientific consensus.
“And then his articles can be cited by the companies, can be used to say, ‘Look at this article in a major journal concludes we don’t know yet if sugar sweetened beverages are bad for children and adult health,'” said Barry Popkin, a food researcher at the University of North Carolina.
It’s not just soda companies. Allison has also taken money from Kraft, McDonald’s, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars and Nabisco, according to his financial disclosures.
Find the full article, “Is ‘Big Food’s’ Big Money Influencing the Science of Nutrition,” at abcnews.com. For additional reading on how to decipher studies — including who’s funding them — check out these Experience Life articles:
- “Just Another Statistic” (June 2009)
- “A Study in Confusion” (December 2007)
- “Making Sense of Science” (November/December 2003)