To hear that sugary sodas may have contributed to the obesity epidemic probably would not come as much of a surprise to most people. But there are some studies that also suggest sugary drinks—like sodas—do not, in fact, cause obesity.
How can that be? To have two studies on the same subject yield nearly opposite results?
Well, if you look at the funding for the research it might become more clear.
Apparently, every single experimental study that has found no link between sugary drinks and obesity (or diabetes) has been funded—in part or as a whole—from the beverage industry. This is according to the founding director of University of California-San Francisco Center for Vulnerable Populations Dr. Dean Schillinger. The lead researcher of this study is also a professor of medicine and he also makes sure to comment that nearly all experimental studies that do establish a direct link between sugary drinks and obesity or diabetes have not had any funding from beverage makers.
He notes, “The industry seems to be using the scientific method to sow doubt about the truth related to their products.”
Of course, the American Beverage Association (ABA) has countered that Schillinger himself has a bit of a conflict of interest because he is, in fact, a “paid expert” [in a lawsuit related to the city of San Francisco’s attempt to require new health warning labels on any billboard that promotes a soft drink.
The ABA responds: “It’s ironic that he would write about bias in research when he himself is clearly not an impartial researcher.”
Schillinger also goes on to say that out of the 60 studies uncovered in the review, 26 were found to have received financial support from the beverage industry, in some way. None of these 26 industry-funded studies found a link between sugary beverages and the adverse health conditions like obesity and diabetes. Alternately, though, 33 out of the other 34 studies that did report a direct link had not received any funding from the beverage industry at all.
Accordingly, Boston University School of Public Health professor of community health sciences, Dr. Michael Siegel comments, “It clearly reveals the bias that’s present in these studies. This is not a subtle finding