Normally, we at spiked have better things to do than point out all the egregious errors in a single television programme. But this episode of Dispatches did such a good job of scooping up all the current prejudices around sugar and health that it would be a shame not to.
Do read it.
On the subject of industry-funded science, about which the Disptaches programme was obsessed, an interesting study was published in PLoS this week. It looked at the reliability of animal research in relation to statins. The accompanying editorial starts by making the general point that "clinical trials sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry are likely to exaggerate benefit and minimise harms", but then concludes that industry-funded work in this instance is "likely to be performed and reported to a higher quality, and to be at lower risk of bias, than work sponsored by others."
The findings suggest that there is something different about industry-sponsored non-human animal research, perhaps reflecting higher standards than is the case elsewhere. Perhaps the academic community can learn something from our colleagues in the commercial sector.
The editorial suggests that industry has greater incentive to make sure the results are correct in the long run, whereas incentives are different for non-industry researchers...
In contrast, academic researchers are rewarded not for the marathon but for the sprint—for a high-impact publication describing a part of the jigsaw, not for the body of work that shows the whole picture. To them, substantial efficacy in a single study is, in some respects, an end rather than a beginning.
Bero and colleagues have made an important contribution; their findings suggest that academic researchers might learn good practice in the management, conduct, and reporting of non-human animal research from colleagues in industry, and reinforces the importance for readers of research reports to focus on methods and data rather than on abstracts and conclusions.
On a different note, I see that New Zealand's slippery slope is being coated in grease and covered in ball bearings. I honestly assumed that this was a spoof when I came across it via Eric Crampton. It is not.
The first symposium to focus on the health effects of sugary drinks will be held in Auckland next month.
‘Sugary Drink Free Pacific by 2030?’ is the theme of the symposium that will be hosted by the University of Auckland at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences in February.
As Eric says...
A couple years ago it was SmokeFreeNZ 2025. Now MoH seems to be putting money into a conference pushing an end to soft drinks by 2025. I wonder how long until they want plain packaging for Coke.