Food industry donations to patient-advocacy organizations focused on non-communicable diseases

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: This study used publicly available Form 990 tax documents to quantify food industry donations to patient-advocacy organizations (PAOs) dedicated to supporting patients with non-communicable diseases. Design: Observational, cross-sectional assessment of significant national and international food industry donations to U.S.-based non-communicable disease-focused PAOs between 2000 and 2018. Researchers recorded and categorized 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-focused PAOs. Results: Adjusting for inflation, nine food and beverage companies collectively donated $10,672,093 (n=2709) to the PAOs between 2001-2018. 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). Organizations focusing on cancer received the largest number and amount of donations ($6,265,861, n=1,968). Eight of the nine companies made their largest monetary value of donation to PAOs focused 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 organizations and raise questions regarding conflicts of interest. Increased awareness of food industry donation practices involving PAOs 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)
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Food industry
  • conflicts of interest
  • funding distribution
  • non-communicable diseases
  • patient advocacy organizations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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