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Use of causal language in observational studies of obesity and nutrition

Use of causal language in observational studies of obesity and nutrition

Obesity Facts 3(6): 353-356

To assess the inappropriate use of causal language in studies on obesity and nutrition. 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. 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. We suggest that editors and reviewers evaluate submissions for misleading reporting.

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Accession: 056795394

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PMID: 21196788

DOI: 10.1159/000322940

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