Marketing, Puffery, and Nutrition Research

Puffery is all around us in marketing and advertising. According to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM), it’s creeping into obesity and nutrition research, too.

Nir Menachemi and colleagues found that overreaching conclusions are common in obesity and nutrition research studies published in leading scientific journals. And they found it was more common in papers published in 2011 than in 2001. Public health journals more often published these inflated conclusions than medical, nutrition, and obesity journals.

It could be that the people making these inflated claims are blind to their own bias. Most successful people put some energy into selling their ideas. But people are so attentive to commercial bias that other sources of bias can go unnoticed. One such invisible bias is the impulse to advance a worthy agenda — white hat bias.

One of the editors of AJPM wrote an editorial to accompany the Menachemi paper. She concluded that her journal is doing its part, “making  errors in the medical literature increasingly less common.”

And she acknowledged no competing editorial or research interests.

Click here to read the Menachemi paper in AJPM.

World’s Best Hamburger, photograph © Adam Gerard / flickr

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