Last week, StatNews.com revealed that the Walt Disney company tried to withdraw a research study it had funded because its University of Colorado authors, Jim Hill and John Peters, were behind the Global Energy Balance Network, the group funded by Coca-Cola to minimize the role of sugary drinks in obesity.
The headline: “Disney, fearing a scandal, tried to press journal to withdraw research paper.”
StatNews.com based the story on e-mails obtained from the University of Colorado by Gary Ruskin of US Right to Know through open records requests.
An e-mail from John Peters to a Disney representative says “could I ask you to look this [draft press release] over and edit as you see fit.”
But the authors’ conflict-of-interest disclosure statement says:
This work was supported by the Walt Disney Company and by the National Institutes of Health (grant no. DK48520). The Walt Disney Company and the National Institutes of Health had no role in the design, analysis, or writing of this article.
This may be strictly true, but the authors were asking Disney to approve their press release, which is not exactly “no role.”
Readers: does any of this sound familiar? In February, I wrote a blog post about precisely this article for which I wrote an invited Commentary, accepted by the journal but not published. I said:
The paper turned out to be by a group of authors, among them John Peters and Jim Hill, b…