Online Program

Correcting conflicts of interest: How to address food and beverage industry donations to universities and hospitals

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 8:50 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

Marie Bragg, PhD, Dept of Population Health, NYU School of Medicine; NYU Global Institute of Public Health, New York, NY
Background: Food companies and their philanthropic organizations provide donations to various institutions, including universities, hospitals, and health-professional organizations. By partnering with well-respected research and health organizations, food companies can improve their public image and open new channels for indirect marketing. Similar tactics have been employed by the tobacco industry prior to legislative action.

Methods: Researchers conducted an online search of university websites and hospitals in the U.S. to capture media coverage relating to food and beverage corporate donations.

Data were analyzed to quantify the number of universities and hospitals who received donations from major food or beverage companies.

Results:  Millions of dollars have been donated to various universities, hospitals, and health-related organizations since the year 2000. Researchers identified 30 examples of donations that ranged from $25,000 (Coca Cola) to $40 million (Mars Inc.). Coca-Cola and Pepsi accounted for 90% of the donations to universities and hospitals in the sample.

Discussion:  Food and beverage companies donate millions of dollars to universities and hospitals, creating a problematic conflict of interest that could affect public health research and practice.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the influence of corporate sponsorship Evaluate institutional policies regarding donations

Keyword(s): Obesity, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed the study, analyzed the data, and drafted the manuscript.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.