Food industry donations to patient advocacy organisations focussed on non-communicable diseases

Inés M. Del Giudice, Krystle A. Tsai, Josh Arshonsky, Sara Bond, Marie A. Bragg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study used publicly available Form 990 tax documents to quantify food industry donations to patient advocacy organisations (PAO) dedicated to supporting patients with non-communicable diseases. Design: Observational, cross-sectional assessment of significant national and international food industry donations to US-based non-communicable disease-focussed PAO between 2000 and 2018. Researchers recorded and categorised the: (1) frequency and value of donations; (2) reason for donation; (3) name and type of PAO recipient and (4) non-communicable disease focus of the PAO. Setting: Form 990 tax documents. Participants: Nine food and beverage companies that donated to non-communicable disease-focussed PAO. Results: Adjusting for inflation, nine food and beverage companies collectively donated $10 672 093 (n 2709) to the PAO between 2001 and 2018. The largest category of donations was 'matching gifts' (67·9 %, median amount = $115·16), followed by 'general operations support' (25·8 %, median amount = $107·79). Organisations focussing on cancer received the largest number and amount of donations ($6 265 861, n 1968). Eight of the nine companies made their largest monetary value of donation to PAO focussed on cancer. Conclusions: Publicly available tax data provide robust information on food industry donation practices. Our findings document the food industry's role in supporting patient advocacy organisations and raise questions regarding conflicts of interest. Increased awareness of food industry donation practices involving PAO may generate pressure for policies mandating transparency or encourage donors and recipients to voluntarily disclose donations. If public disclosure becomes widespread, constituents, advocates, researchers and policymakers can better supervise and address potential conflicts of interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-518
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 28 2023


  • Conflicts of interest
  • Food industry
  • Funding distribution
  • Non-communicable diseases
  • Patient advocacy organisations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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