A controversial researcher identified for bucking the well-established dietary recommendation that individuals ought to restrict their sugar and red meat consumption has, as soon as once more, failed to disclose his monetary ties to the meals industry.
Epidemiologist Bradley Johnston failed to report funding from a analysis company backed by the meat industry when he printed a high-profile evaluate on red meat consumption, in accordance to the journal that printed the evaluate final yr, Annals of Internal Medicine. The evaluate concluded that customers ought to proceed—not cut back—their consumption of red and processed meats, which has been fiercely criticized by diet specialists.
Annals issued a correction on the evaluate final week, updating the evaluate’s accompanying disclosure varieties.
In the correction discover, Annals editors acknowledged that Johnston’s industry-linked grant cash was particularly for finding out saturated and polyunsaturated fat. The Washington Post reported additional element on the grant cash, saying that Johnston and his former employer Dalhousie University obtained $76,863 to conduct a brand new meta-analysis on saturated fats.
That grant cash got here from AgriLife Research, part of Texas A&M University that’s partially funded by the meat industry. According to Patrick Stover, vice chancellor and dean of AgriLife, the Texas analysis company obtained greater than $2 million in funding from the meat industry in 2019 alone.
Stover was additionally a co-author on the Annals research with Johnston, together with a global staff of researchers. Stover has since employed Johnston as an affiliate professor of neighborhood well being and epidemiology at Texas A&M.
All of this raises questions on whether or not Johnston had an agenda to downplay the well being dangers of red and processed meats—which might be excessive in saturated fat.
Such questions will not be new to Johnston.
Tainted meals research
In 2016, Johnston led one other high-profile, extensively panned research that concluded that the advice to cut back sugar consumption is predicated on weak scientific proof.
Like the newer red meat research, Johnston’s sugar research used a technique known as GRADE to fee the standard of proof behind the dietary suggestions. But GRADE was primarily designed to assess medical drug trials, which might be double-blinded and placebo-controlled, in accordance to specialists who spoke to the Times. Such controls are troublesome if not not possible to embody in dietary research.
Moreover, the sugar research was funded by International Life Sciences Institute, a shadowy meals industry commerce group whose members embody McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Cargill, one of many largest beef processors in North America, in accordance to the Times.
At the time of publication, Johnston and his co-authors claimed that ILSI had no direct position within the research, which was additionally printed in Annals. But an Associated Press investigation discovered that ILSI “reviewed and approved” the research’s protocol and even “requested revisions.” After the AP’s findings, Annals issued a correction on the research, updating the writer disclosure kind—very similar to the correction on Johnston’s red meat research.
In the wake of backlash from the sugar research’s industry ties, Johnston instructed the Times that he discovered the lesson “to separate oneself. It’s not worth working with industry at all.”