Filed Under: Big Fat Lies

Obesity Researcher Faked Data

"In the worst case of scientific fakery to come to light in two decades," the Boston Globe reports, "a top obesity researcher who long worked at the University of Vermont admitted yesterday that he fabricated data in 17 applications for federal grants to make his work seem more promising, helping him win nearly $3 million in government funding." If you are shocked by this fraud, you won’t believe who’s defending him.As the Globe noted, Eric Poehlman "was a star among obesity researchers." Indeed, in 2000 he won the Lilly Scientific Achievement Awardthrough the pharmaceutical industry-funded North American Association for the Study of Obesity. Poehlman helped shape future obesity research priorities through an American Heart Association obesity conference working group. And he was an American Society of Clinical Nutrition "mentor," along with industry-funded obesity researchers such as Xavier Pi-Sunyer (responsible for casting millions of Americans into the government’s official "overweight" category), David Heber (who pushes obesity hysteria on TV while receiving plenty of money from weight-loss companies) and William Klish (who made up his own obesity myth out of whole cloth).Even as the U.S. Attorney for Vermont says Poehlman "fraudulently diverted millions of dollars," one notable figure came to Poehlman’s defense: fellow obesity researcher Dr. D.B. Allison. Saying of Poehlman, ”I believe he’s innocent," Allison assured Globe readers that the good doctor "committed no act of scientific misconduct."That defense might be more compelling if it weren’t coming from a researcher whose work was recently criticized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a "fundamental scientific problem" regarding "limitations in both the data and the methodology."As we’ve told you before, Allison is the well-fundedresearcher who co-authored a deeply flawed study concluding that obesity killed 300,000 Americans each year. His research became the basis for the now-discredited CDC report which raised the supposed death-toll to 400,000. Allison, meanwhile, co-authored a half-dozen papers with Poehlman, has been a statistical consultant to him since 1998, and was a co-investigator on research projects which received grants totaling (Canadian) $1.75 million.At least 10 of Poehlman’s articles published in medical journals will have to be corrected. Allison’s methodology is currently under review. Perhaps it’s time to seriously scrutinize the world of obesity research.

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