CHICAGO — JAMA, JAMA Internal Medicine and JAMA Pediatrics have retracted six articles that included Brian Wansink, Ph.D., a professor and director of Cornell Univ.’s Food and Brand Lab, as author, the JAMA Network said Sept. 19.
Wansink has resigned and will retire from Cornell at the end of the academic year, said Michael I. Kotlikoff, VMD, Ph.D., provost for Cornell Univ., Ithaca, New York.
“He has been removed from all teaching and research,” Kotlikoff said. “Instead he will be obligated to spend his time cooperating with the university in its ongoing review of his prior research.”
He said the university has reviewed allegations of misconduct against Wansink for more than a year and a faculty committee investigated his research.
“The committee found that Professor Wansink committed academic misconduct in his research and scholarship, including misreporting of research data, problematic statistical techniques, failure to properly document and preserve research results, and inappropriate authorship.”
Wansink is the author of “Mindless Eating” and “Slim by Design” as well as more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles. From 2007-09, he served as executive director of the US Dept. of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in charge of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.
Wansink, when contacted by Milling & Baking News (sister publication to MEAT+POULTRY) before the announcement of his resignation, said the retractions were “quite a surprise.”
“From what my coauthors and I believed, the independent analyses of our data sets confirmed all of our published findings,” he said. “What we did not keep over the past 25 years are the original pencil and paper surveys and coding sheets that were used in these papers. That is, once we combined all the data into spreadsheets, we tossed the pencil and paper versions. That might be why they said they couldn’t reproduce these from scratch.
“As I told my coauthors, I’ve very proud of all of these papers, and I’m confident they will be replicated by other groups.”
The JAMA Network on May 8 published notices of “expression of concern” regarding the articles. The JAMA Network requested that Cornell Univ. conduct an independent evaluation to determine the results were valid. The JAMA Network on Sept. 19 said Cornell Univ. was unable to provide assurances regarding the scientific validity, with Cornell responding, “We regret that, because we do not have access to the original data, we cannot assure you that the results of the studies are valid.”
The JAMA Network had no further comment, said Howard Bauchner, MD, editor in chief for JAMA and The JAMA Network. JAMA previously was called the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The six articles are:
“Super bowls: serving bowl size and food consumption” published in JAMA in 2005. 293(14):1727-1728;
“First foods most: after 18-hour fast, people drawn to starches first and vegetables last” published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2012. 172(12):961-963;
“Fattening fasting: hungry grocery shoppers buy more calories, not more food” published in 2013 in JAMA Internal Medicine. 173(12):1146-1148;
“Watch what you eat: action-related television content increases food intake” published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014. 174(11):1842-1843;
“Consequences of belonging to the ‘clean plate club’” published in 2008 in Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine. 162(10):994-995; and
“Preordering school lunch encourages better food choices by children” published in 2013 in JAMA Pediatrics. 167(7):673-674.