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Vol. 3, No. 6, 2010
Issue release date: December 2010
Free Access
Obes Facts 2010;3:353–356
(DOI:10.1159/000322940)

Use of Causal Language in Observational Studies of Obesity and Nutrition

Cofield S.S.a · Corona R.V.b · Allison D.B.a, c
a Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, b Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, c Nutrition Obesity Research Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA
email Corresponding Author

Abstract

Objective: To assesss the inappropriate use of causal language in studies on obesity and nutrition. Methods: Titles and abstracts of 525 peer-reviewed papers in the 4 leading journals in the fields of obesity and nutrition were scrutinized for language implying causality in observational studies published in 2006. Results: Such misleading language appeared in 161 papers (31%) independent of funding source. Remarkably 49% of studies lacking statistically significant primary outcomes used misleading language compared to 29% of those with p values ≤0.05 (chi square p < 0.001). Exculpatory language was present in the body of the text in 19%; of the 161 studies. Conclusion: We suggest that editors and reviewers evaluate submissions for misleading reporting.


 Outline


 goto top of outline Keywords

  • Epidemiology
  • Nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Causal language
  • Observational studies

 goto top of outline Summary

Objective: To assesss the inappropriate use of causal language in studies on obesity and nutrition. Methods: Titles and abstracts of 525 peer-reviewed papers in the 4 leading journals in the fields of obesity and nutrition were scrutinized for language implying causality in observational studies published in 2006. Results: Such misleading language appeared in 161 papers (31%) independent of funding source. Remarkably 49% of studies lacking statistically significant primary outcomes used misleading language compared to 29% of those with p values ≤0.05 (chi square p < 0.001). Exculpatory language was present in the body of the text in 19%; of the 161 studies. Conclusion: We suggest that editors and reviewers evaluate submissions for misleading reporting.

Copyright © 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel


 goto top of outline Author Contacts

Stacey S. Cofield, Department of Biostatistics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, RPHB414, 1530 3rd Avenue S., Birmingham, AL 35294, USA, Tel. +1 205 934 4932, scofield@uab.edu


 goto top of outline Article Information

Published online: December 10, 2010
Number of Print Pages : 4


 goto top of outline Publication Details

Obesity Facts (The European Journal of Obesity)

Vol. 3, No. 6, Year 2010 (Cover Date: December 2010)

Journal Editor: Hebebrand J. (Essen)
ISSN: 1662-4025 (Print), eISSN: 1662-4033 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/OFA


Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

Abstract

Objective: To assesss the inappropriate use of causal language in studies on obesity and nutrition. Methods: Titles and abstracts of 525 peer-reviewed papers in the 4 leading journals in the fields of obesity and nutrition were scrutinized for language implying causality in observational studies published in 2006. Results: Such misleading language appeared in 161 papers (31%) independent of funding source. Remarkably 49% of studies lacking statistically significant primary outcomes used misleading language compared to 29% of those with p values ≤0.05 (chi square p < 0.001). Exculpatory language was present in the body of the text in 19%; of the 161 studies. Conclusion: We suggest that editors and reviewers evaluate submissions for misleading reporting.



 goto top of outline Author Contacts

Stacey S. Cofield, Department of Biostatistics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, RPHB414, 1530 3rd Avenue S., Birmingham, AL 35294, USA, Tel. +1 205 934 4932, scofield@uab.edu


 goto top of outline Article Information

Published online: December 10, 2010
Number of Print Pages : 4


 goto top of outline Publication Details

Obesity Facts (The European Journal of Obesity)

Vol. 3, No. 6, Year 2010 (Cover Date: December 2010)

Journal Editor: Hebebrand J. (Essen)
ISSN: 1662-4025 (Print), eISSN: 1662-4033 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/OFA


Copyright / Drug Dosage

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.