Conflicts of interest in the “war” against obesity: is it possible serve two masters?

  • Alexandre Palma Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
  • Nilda Teves Ferreira Universidade Gama Filho
  • Murilo Mariano Vilaça Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
  • Monique Assis Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro


Different and numerous studies have attempted to demonstrate that obesity and sedentary lifestyle have high prevalence rates in the world and in Brazil. The “war”, however, has been fought many times against the obese and sedentary, as opposed to combating specific conditions. Moreover, it is not uncommon to find junk food manufacturers associated with scientific entities. The objective of this study is to examine the presence of potential conflicts of interest in the relationship between the sponsoring companies and scientific organizations that develop actions to stimulate body fat reduction and physical activity. The websites of seven scientific institutions were investigated through the methodology of discourse analysis. Initially, we looked for companies sponsoring events or prizes promoted by such institutions. We examined all the events and prizes available between the years 2012 and 2013. Of the seven institutions surveyed, three had some association with manufacturers of junk food. Results showed that: a) the insistence in encouraging behaviors associated with regular physical activity, healthy eating habits and the intention to reduce obesity and improve health, b) the involvement of different companies in the industry food considered unhealthy, and c) the ability to engage different professional and scientific organizations. We can conclude that there is inconsistency between the rhetoric and the actions of institutions and great conflict of interest.


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How to Cite
Palma, A., Ferreira, N., Vilaça, M., & Assis, M. (2014). Conflicts of interest in the “war” against obesity: is it possible serve two masters? . Saúde E Sociedade, 23(4), 1262-1274.