Best Practices in Nutrition Science to Earn and Keep the Public’s Trust

The American Society for Nutrition (ASN) is committed to ensuring transparency and objectivity in our practices as a Society, as well as in the entire field of nutrition science.

We strive to work collaboratively with various stakeholders across sectors and disciplines while maintaining transparency and scientific rigor in nutrition science.

 

ASN is in the process of implementing the best practice recommendations to ensure better trust in ASN and nutrition science, with the help of an Implementation Advisory Group and ASN committees.

We appreciate the input of many nutrition stakeholders during this process. The open feedback period ended August 21, 2020.


Background

meeting

In 2016, the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) commissioned a Blue Ribbon Panel on “Ensuring Trust in Nutrition Science” to develop best practices regarding how to work collaboratively with various stakeholders across sectors and disciplines while maintaining transparency and scientific rigor in nutrition science to uphold the trust of all stakeholders.

These best practices apply to various stakeholders across industry, government, academia and other nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations within the field of nutrition and beyond.  The best practices help to ensure transparency, objectivity, and comprehensiveness and guide the Society’s activities, as well as help ASN members and other nutrition scientists and researchers achieve the best nutrition science that maintains scientific rigor and transparency while ultimately benefiting public and individual health.

Read the Recommendations

Timeline of Events

November 2020

ASN Board of Directors approves the draft “Guiding Principles” documents, addressing member input received during the open feedback period.

 

Access the Final Documents

July 2020

Draft “Guiding Principles” documents, developed by the Implementation Advisory Group, are released for ASN member review and feedback.

 

November 2019

An Implementation Advisory Group is named and begins work to implement each of the recommendations.

This work is ongoing at this time and stakeholder input will be accepted throughout at trust@nutrition.org

Group Calls Summary Notes

November 2019

An Implementation Advisory Group is named and begins work to implement each of the recommendations.

This work is ongoing at this time and stakeholder input will be accepted throughout at trust@nutrition.org

Group Calls Summary Notes

October 2019

The ASN Board of Directors approves implementation of each of the recommendations

Approval is based on ASN committee’s draft implementation plans developed with stakeholder feedback received. Find the implementation plan here.

View Implementation Plan

June 2019

A Nutrition 2019 session is held to update attendees on the report and recommendations and to gather stakeholder input on implementation of the recommendations.

January-March 2019

ASN seeks stakeholder input regarding implementation of the report’s recommendations.

Internally, ASN committees review the recommendations and develop implementation plans

January 2019

Publication of the Blue Ribbon Panel’s report

The Panel’s report “Best Practices in Nutrition Science to Earn and Keep the Public’s Trust” and its recommendations, which are based on a comprehensive literature review, are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition along with accompanying commentary by Past President Catherine J. Field, “Ensuring Trust in Nutrition Science: Request for Stakeholder Input.”

June 2018

A Nutrition 2018 session is held to update attendees on the status of the project and to gather stakeholder input.

This presentation is freely available on ASN on Demand.

View Presentation

April 2016

Work of the Blue Ribbon Panel commences

An in-person kick-off meeting was held on April 25, 2016, following a March 2016 introductory conference call. Regular calls of the panel were held throughout 2016 and 2017, with an update provided to ASN members and other attendees during the April 2017 Experimental Biology meeting. The panel finished report writing in early 2018.

February 2016

ASN commissions an independent “Blue Ribbon Panel”

to review the current state of trust in nutrition science and to provide recommendations regarding how to work collaboratively with various stakeholders across sectors and disciplines while maintaining transparency and scientific rigor in nutrition science to uphold the trust of all stakeholders.

Access Summary Notes

Recommendations

Recommendation #1:

ASN should develop a rigorous, transparent approach to co-sponsoring and managing all activities financially supported by “entities and/or individuals at interest.” Key to the second alternative are management approaches intended to minimize bias and enhance transparency such as the establishment of an independent advisory group reporting directly to the ASN Board and charged with reviewing proposed activities co-sponsored by entities and/or individuals at interest and the development and implementation of guidelines for avoiding conflicts of interests of individuals.

See the approved report, Guiding Principles for Relationships with Entities at Interest.

Recommendation #2:

ASN publications should include a front-of-the-publication label that describes three key study characteristics: 1) the type of evidence presented in the study (e.g. observational, RCT, discovery, mechanistic, etc.), 2) the study finding’s most proper use(s) (e.g., draw conclusions/inform policy, hypothesis generation, or increase basic knowledge) and 3) the quality of evidence (Low or Moderate or High based on specified GRADE criteria).

Recommendation #3:

ASN should bolster its efforts to engage the public and media in more effective dialogue among its members, the media, and the public.

Recommendation #4:

ASN should develop guidelines for its members in managing and conducting nutrition research funded by entities at interest – often those with a financial stake in the outcomes of the funded work.

See the approved report, Guiding Principles for Managing and Conducting Nutrition Research Funded by Entities at Interest.

Recommendation #5:

ASN should commission independent audits of its adherence to adopted policies and practices intended to heighten and maintain public trust in nutrition science.

Recommendation #6:

ASN should develop comprehensive conflict of interest disclosure statements that cover financial and other conflict of interest sources that serve as a model in nutrition science for use by its members, other stakeholder groups, and staff.

Outcomes

Published Report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Guiding Principles for Relationships with Entities at Interest (Approved November 2020)

Guiding Principles for Managing and Conducting Nutrition Research Funded by Entities at Interest (Approved November 2020)

Notes from Panel Discussions

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The American Society of Nutrition’s (ASN) membership of 8,000 scientists and practitioners continues grow daily. Founded in 1928, the Society’s membership rolls read like a “Who’s is Who” in the field of nutrition research.