White hat bias: examples of its presence in obesity research and a call for renewed commitment to faithfulness in research reporting

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


'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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding / epidemiology*
  • Carbonated Beverages / adverse effects
  • Carbonated Beverages / statistics & numerical data*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Publication Bias*
  • Qualitative Research