Is It Possible to Solve the Conflicts Over Conflict of Interest?; 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


Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, School of Nursing, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA


Addressing conflicts of interest (COIs) when developing and implementing policies to address commercial determinants of health is pivotal to ensure that these policies are free from commercial and other vested interests of unhealthy commodities industry. As a concept, this is well accepted within the tobacco control community, and supported by the existence of an international treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). But in nutrition policy the engagement of the food industry appears to remain controversial, as efforts to create partnerships are still underway. There is a need to undertake evaluation of existing COI policies to assess their implementation and outcomes, creating best practice models that can be replicated, and understanding how to change norms within governments. Additionally, a review of existing norms, codes of conduct, and ethics to determine their impact on preventing COI would guide future implementation of these measures. Finally, governments, academics, and advocates should consider how existing tools, guidelines or other instruments could help frame the COI discussion to ensure its political feasibility. There is a need for a discussion on whether the current approach of separate policies for distinct industries is preferable than a broader COI policy that would be applicable to a wide range of unhealthy commodities and across governmental sectors.


  1.  Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, School of Nursing, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA
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Volume 11, Issue 3
March 2022
Pages 398-400
  • Receive Date: 20 July 2021
  • Revise Date: 25 December 2021
  • Accept Date: 26 December 2021
  • First Publish Date: 27 December 2021