HealthDay News — Funding sources may play a role in the way data is interpreted in studies that analyze the role of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and obesity, according to researchers at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity.

Reviews that are funded by the beverage industry tend to find the evidence weak for a causal link between sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and the increasing prevalence of obesity, despite other reviews indicating the evidence is well founded, José Massougbodji, from Laval University in Quebec, and colleagues reported in a poster session.

They conducted a systematic search of 17 studies, including three meta-analyses, three qualitative systematic reviews and 11 qualitative nonsystematic reviews published from 2006 to 2011. Four of the reviews were funded by the food industry.

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The authors’ final position was assessed on a scale of 0 (no evidence of causal relationship) to 5 (strong evidence of causal relationship).

There was no correlation between quality scores and the source of funding. However, industry-funded reviews tended to conclud that there was weak evidence supporting a causal link (mean position score, 1.78), whereas other reviews generally considered the evidence to be well founded (mean position score, 3.29).

“Results support the hypothesis of a master plan, based on subtle intervention, that has been developed by the food industry to instill doubt regarding the adverse effects of SSB and to prevent the implementation of public health interventions and policies aiming to reduce their consumption,” study researcher Philippe De Wals, PhD, also of Laval University said in a statement.


  1. Massougbodji J. Abstract #T3/T34:O53.2. Presented at: 20th European Congress on Obesity (ECO). May 12-15, 2013; Liverpool, United Kingdom.