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. 2010 Jan;34(1):84-8; discussion 83.
doi: 10.1038/ijo.2009.239. Epub 2009 Dec 1.

White Hat Bias: Examples of Its Presence in Obesity Research and a Call for Renewed Commitment to Faithfulness in Research Reporting

Free PMC article

White Hat Bias: Examples of Its Presence in Obesity Research and a Call for Renewed Commitment to Faithfulness in Research Reporting

M B Cope et al. Int J Obes (Lond). .
Free PMC article


'White hat bias' (WHB) (bias leading to distortion of information in the service of what may be perceived to be righteous ends) is documented through quantitative data and anecdotal evidence from the research record regarding the postulated predisposing and protective effects of nutritively sweetened beverages and breastfeeding, respectively, on obesity. Evidence of an apparent WHB is found in a degree sufficient to mislead readers. WHB bias may be conjectured to be fuelled by feelings of righteous zeal, indignation toward certain aspects of industry or other factors. Readers should beware of WHB, and our field should seek methods to minimize it.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Plot of sample effect sizes from cross-sectional studies of the association between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and obesity indexes indicating publication bias among non-industry-funded studies.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Plot of the relation between association magnitude and study precision indicating publication bias in studies of breastfeeding and obesity (from [7]).

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