Conflict of Interest in Nutrition: Where’s the Power?; Comment on “Towards Preventing and Managing Conflict of Interest in Nutrition Policy? An Analysis of Submissions to a Consultation on a Draft WHO Tool”

Document Type : Commentary


1 Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK

2 World Vegetable Center, Bangkok, Thailand

3 International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA


Actual or perceived conflict of interests (COIs) among public and private actors in the field of nutrition must be managed. Ralston et al expose sharply contrasting views on the new World Health Organization (WHO) COI management tool, highlighting the contested nature of global debates. Both the WHO COI tool and the Ralston et al paper are largely quiet on aspects of power among different actors, however, which we argue is integral to these conflicts. We suggest that power needs to be acknowledged as a factor in COI; that it needs to be systematically assessed in COI tools using approaches we outline here; and that it needs to be explicitly addressed through COI mechanisms. We would recommend that all actors in the nutrition space (not only private companies) are held to the same COI standards, and we would welcome further studies such as Ralston et al to further build accountability.


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Volume 11, Issue 3
March 2022
Pages 391-393
  • Receive Date: 31 July 2020
  • Revise Date: 12 September 2020
  • Accept Date: 13 September 2020
  • First Publish Date: 30 September 2020