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Textual analysis of sugar industry influence on the World Health Organization’s 2015 sugars intake guideline

Stuckler, David, Reeves, Aaron, Loopstra, Rachel and McKee, Martin (2016) Textual analysis of sugar industry influence on the World Health Organization’s 2015 sugars intake guideline. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 94 (8). pp. 566-573. ISSN 0042-9686

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Identification Number: 10.2471/BLT.15.165852

Abstract

Objective To determine whether sugar industry-related organizations influenced textual changes between the draft and final versions of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) 2015 guideline Sugars intake for adults and children. Methods Stakeholder consultation submissions on the draft guideline from seven sugar industry-related and 10 public health organizations were assessed using the Wordscores program. Document scores were rescaled using the Martin–Vanberg transformation to improve comparability. Draft and final guidelines were compared to identify changes influenced by the sugar industry and public health organizations. Findings There was a small shift in transformed Wordscores score between the draft and final guidelines, from 0.25 to 0.24, towards the industry position. The change was linked to increased use of the word “low” to describe the quality of the evidence, consistent with industry arguments. There was also a shift from use of the word “consumption” to “intake”, irrespective of policy position. Scores for World Sugar Research Organisation and Sugar Nutrition UK submissions ( 0.11 and 0.18, respectively) represented strong pro-industry positions and scores for European Public Health Alliance and Wemos submissions (1.00 and 0.88, respectively) represented the strongest public health positions. Industry tactics included challenging the quality of the evidence, distinguishing between different types of sugar and advocating harm reduction. Conclusion There was little change between draft and final versions of the WHO sugars intake guideline 2015, following industry consultation. The main change was linked to emphasizing the low quality of the evidence on sugar’s adverse effects. Guideline development appeared relatively resistant to industry influence at the stakeholder consultation stage.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.who.int/entity/bulletin/en/
Additional Information: © 2016 World Health Organization (WHO) © CC BY 3.0 IGO
Divisions: International Inequalities Institute
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2017 16:54
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:26
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/68796

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