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I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
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Nutrition scientists should disclose potential conflicts of interest in six areas, such as industry sponsorship and personal food preferences, suggests an interesting viewpoint recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The viewpoint suggests the potential for conflict of interest in nutrition areas is more than disclosing industry sponsorship and professional affiliations that currently are required and published in biomedical research journals.
The viewpoint's two authors, who are from Stanford University, write (and we quote): 'Industry sponsorship is not the only form of financial conflict of interest germane to nutrition science. Some indirect financial gains may also be important' (end of quote).
For example, the viewpoint's authors explain many nutrition scientists and experts write popular books about nutrition, diet, and weight loss sometimes with little to no evidence to support the diet's safety claims and weight loss potential.
The viewpoint's authors add (and we quote) "readers should know if an author is strongly adherent to a vegan diet, the Atkins diet, a gluten-free diet, a high animal protein diet, specific brands of supplements, and so forth if these dietary choices are discussed in an article' (end of quote).
The viewpoint's authors continue that nutrition scientists also should disclose when funds are given by donors to relevant, non-profit nutritional initiatives.
In addition, the viewpoint's authors suggest nutrition scientists should disclose their personal dietary habits and preferences. The authors write many nutrition researchers (and we quote): '... have been exposed to various dietary norms from their family, culture, or religion. These norms can sometimes be intertwined with core values, absolute metaphysical beliefs, or both. For instance, could an author who is strongly adherent to some religion conclude that a diet-related prescription of his or her religion is so unhealthy as not to be worthwhile?' (end of quote).
The viewpoint's authors explain other potential conflicts of interest include nutrition, food advocacy, and activism as well as non-religious personal lifestyle choices that impact food decisions, such as meditation or tai chi.
The viewpoint's authors write (and we quote): 'As a general rule, if an author's living example could be reasonably expected to influence how some readers perceive an article, disclosure should be encouraged' (end of quote).
Overall, the viewpoint's authors write (and we quote) "the types of articles in which relevant disclosure should be expected include original research, reviews, and opinion pieces (such as editorials)' (end of quote).
Moreover, the viewpoint strongly suggests there is room for improvement regarding leadership and professional stewardship regarding full disclosure in nutritional science. In contrast with those who suggest utmost admission may undermine an author's credibility with scientists, or the public, the viewpoint's authors counter (and we quote): 'disclosure strengthens the perceived integrity of the author' (end of quote).
Meanwhile, a recommended guide from the Nemours Foundation about food choices is available within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's nutrition health topic page.
A website that helps you critically assess reports about diets in the news (from the Harvard School of Public Health) is available in the 'related issues' section of MedlinePlus.gov's nutrition health topic page.
MedlinePlus.gov's nutrition health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Clinical trials that may be underway in your area are accessible in the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about nutrition as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's nutrition health topic page, please type 'nutrition' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'nutrition (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also has health topic pages devoted to: food safety; nutrition for seniors; and child nutrition.
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