Understanding the issue of real or potential conflict of interest is necessary in order to provide accurate nutrition information to the public (1). Also, achieving excellence in any area of dietetics practice, from clinical management to public health, requires regular review of current scientific literature and reports (2), and misunderstandings about conflict of interest, as well as misrepresentation of relationships that may indicate a potential conflict of interest, can cause inaccurate interpretation of the information. Real or potential conflict of interest may become a very personal issue for some dietetics professionals as they expand their professional roles and practices into more business or corporate relationships.
The newly revised Code of Ethics for the Profession of Dietetics now includes a principle that addresses the issue of conflict of interest (3), reflecting the current environment in which dietetics practice occurs. McNutt (4) has also addressed the issue of conflict of interest in an article providing information and guidance that may be useful for the dietetics professional (4). As McNutt notes, an important area of concern and confusion about conflict of interest relates to nutrition research.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND UNIVERSITY-BASED RESEARCH
The sponsors or supporters of nutrition research are diverse, including federal research funding agencies (eg, the National Institutes of Health), nonprofit organizations (eg, the American Cancer Society), corporations, and commodity groups. Although the characteristics and regulatory details in the university setting are generally similar in all …