Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews

Reflections from a casualty of the food industry research funding debate

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 07 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2034
  1. Fiona Gillison, head of department
  1. Department for Health, University of Bath, UK
  1. sppfbg{at}

While I was aware that others chose not to work with industry, I was unprepared for the consequences that those with opposing views believed should follow if I did

Researchers are increasingly being encouraged to seek funding from industry sources to support their work, both by research councils and their own institutions. Within fields such as obesity and public health nutrition, however, different views around the perceived and actual conflict of interests created by working with industry, particularly organisations producing highly processed food and drinks, can divide researchers.1

On one hand there are those who consider that conducting research with food industry funding is a moral and ethical problem, and that those who work with industry have crossed a line. This view draws on evidence from systematic reviews suggesting that bias exists in the outcomes of industry funded research, casting doubt as to whether it is possible for researchers to maintain their independence as well as the risk of inadvertently appearing to endorse the food industry and its practices.23

On the other hand are those who consider sources of funding to be a practical matter on which researchers should be free to decide while retaining their professional integrity, so long as the process is transparent, potential conflicts …

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