by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Conflicts

Oct 17 2023

US Right to Know reports on conflicts of interest in members of the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

I received an emailed press release from Gary Ruskin at US Right to Know: Report: Nearly Half of Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Have Conflicts of Interest.

Nine out of 20 members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee have conflicts of interest with food, pharmaceutical, or weight loss companies or industry groups with a stake in the outcome of the guidelines, according to a new report published today by the nonprofit public health research group U.S. Right to Know. An additional four members had possible conflicts of interest. The report found that Abbott, Novo Nordisk, National Dairy Council, Eli Lilly, and Weight Watchers (WW) International had ties to two or more DGAC members.

My immediate reaction: Only 9?  Last time, it was 19 out of 20.

Some background

The agencies responsible for the guidelines, HHS and USDA, issued aggregated disclosures of committee members relationships with industry. These treated real conflicts (Mars, Egg Nutrition Center, Novo Nordisk) with non-conflicts (National Science Foundation, Ohio Department of Medicaid) as if they were equivalent; they are not.

The sponsoring agencies have always argued that it is impossible to find nutrition experts without industry ties.  I disagree.  It’s just that people like me who are careful to avoid industry ties are considered too biased to serve on such committees (or so I’ve been told, repeatedly—I’ve not been asked to serve on a federal committee since Food Politics came out).

Do industry ties influence the report?  This is less of a problem than it used to be.  When I was on the DGAC in 1995, our committee set the research questions, did the research, wrote the research report, and wrote the actual Dietary Guidelines.  The agencies did light editing.

That changed in 2010 (administration of Bush II) when the agencies took over writing the guidelines.

In 2020, the agencies wrote the research questions, and they did so again this round.

This means that the only thing left for the DGAC to do is to review the research on questions determined by the agencies.

What is US Right to Know?

This group has initiated and “co-authored 15 peer-reviewed public health studies revealing how the food and beverage industries and industry-funded groups try to influence public opinion, scientific research, public health conferences and government policies related to diet and nutrition.”

A reader, Leah Murphy, wrote me questioning USRTK’s funding (see Appendix D in the report).

“Funding for the report was provided by Feed the Truth, a 501c3 non-profit that is funded by the Lubetzky Family Foundation.”

Daniel Lubetzky is the founder of KIND, a food company.  My point is that a food company funds the non-profit that funded the report. And that seems to undermine the credibility of their report and could qualify under their definition as a COI.

Ordinarily, I would agree that this could be a problem, but not in this instance.  In a previous post on Feed the Truth, I say:

 I was part of a team that suggested names for members of the group’s board.  Once Lubetzky set up the funding, he has had nothing further to do with the group.

From what I’ve been told, that is still true.  Feed the Truth does not have a website, in part because it is closing shop and not giving out more grants.  You can read about its earlier stages in Influence Watch,  Cause IQ, and Cision PR Newswire, but these are now out of date.

USRTK is doing important work and lots of it.  It’s worth following it.


Jan 23 2023

Industry-funded studies of the week: Nuts, again and again

So many people send me these things that I can hardly keep up.  Let’s take a look at two this time.  Thanks to Hugh Joseph and Matthew Kirby for these:

I.  The impact of almonds and almond processing on gastrointestinal physiology, luminal microbiology, and gastrointestinal symptoms: a randomized controlled trial and mastication study   Alice C Creedon, Eirini Dimidi, Estella S Hung, Megan Rossi, Christopher Probert, Terri Grassby, Jesus Miguens-Blanco, Julian R Marchesi, S Mark Scott, Sarah E Berry, Kevin Whelan.  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 116, Issue 6, December 2022, Pages 1790–1804,

  • Conclusions: “Almond consumption has limited impact on microbiota composition but increases butyrate in adults, suggesting positive alterations to microbiota functionality. Almonds can be incorporated into the diet to increase fiber consumption without gut symptoms.”
  • Funding: Supported by an Almond Board of California grant (to KW). The funders provided financial support, and the whole and ground almonds consumed by participants in the trial, but had no role in study design, conduct, analysis, interpretation, or decision to publish.
  • Author disclosures: ACC was funded by a PhD studentship funded by Almond Board of California. ED has received an education grant from Alpro, research funding from the British Dietetic Association, Almond Board of California, the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council, and Nestec Ltd, and has served as a consultant for Puratos. MR and KW have received research funding from Almond Board of California, Danone, and International Dried Fruit and Nut Council, and are co-inventors of volatile organic compounds in the diagnosis and dietary management of irritable bowel syndrome. MR is also cofounder of Bio&Me, a gut health food brand. TG supervises PhD students partially funded by Mondelez and McCain Foods Ltd, and has previously received research funding from Almond Board of California. SEB has received grant funding from Almond Board of California, Malaysian Palm Oil Board, and ZOE Ltd, and receives consultancy and options from ZOE Ltd. All other authors report no conflicts of interest.
  • Comment: The Almond Board is doing its job, apparently.

II. Almond intake alters the acute plasma dihydroxy-octadecenoic acid (DiHOME) response to eccentric exercise.   David C. Nieman1* Ashraf M. Omar2 Colin D. Kay3,  Deepak M. Kasote3,  Camila A. Sakaguchi1,  Ankhbayar Lkhagva2,  Mehari Muuz Weldemariam2 and  Qibin Zhang. Front. Nutr., 09 January 2023.

  • Conclusions:These data support some positive effects of almond intake in improving mood state, retaining strength, decreasing muscle damage, increasing the generation of gut-derived phenolic metabolites, and altering the plasma oxylipin DiHOME response to unaccustomed eccentric exercise in untrained adults. The elevated post-exercise plasma levels of 12,13-DiHOME with almond intake support positive metabolic outcomes for adults engaging in unaccustomed eccentric exercise bouts.”
  • Funding:This work was supported by Almond Board of California, Modesto, CA. The funder had no role in the study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, the preparation of the manuscript, or in the decision to submit the article for publication.”
  • Conflict of Interest: “The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.”
  • Comment:  I disagree.  The fact that the Almond Board funded the study if nothing else gives the appearance of conflicted interests, especially because studies so clearly document the influence of funding whether recognized by recipients or not.


For 30% off, go to  Use code 21W2240 at checkout.