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Use of Causal Language in Observational Studies of Obesity and NutritionCofield 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 Corresponding Author
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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