Annals Retracts 2009 Paper 'The Joy of Cooking Too Much'

Marcia Frellick

December 10, 2018

The Annals of Internal Medicine has retracted "The Joy of Cooking Too Much: 70 Years of Calorie Increases in Classic Recipes," a 2009 article authored by Brian Wansink, PhD, and Collin R. Payne, PhD, because the integrity of the work is uncertain.

The journal also retracted a second paper, published in 2006, on meal size by Wansink and Pierre Chandon, PhD.

The retractions are the 16th and 17th for Wansink, according to Retraction Watch . Wansink had been a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, until he resigned in September of this year after a university investigation of his work found "academic misconduct."

With that knowledge, Annals asked the university specifically about his research published in the journal and received this response on September 27: "This investigation has concluded that Professor Wansink committed academic misconduct in his research and scholarship."

Annals editors said in the December 4 notice of the retraction that the university response did not indicate whether the "Joy of Cooking Too Much" article specifically was scientifically invalid, so they tried to contact the article's authors to review their data.

They were unable to reach Payne, who in the 2009 article was listed as working at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. They did reach Wansink who reanalyzed the numbers and responded, "The files we reran gave the same conclusions, but different numbers in the table."

"In fact, almost every number was different from those in the published article, many substantially so," the editors write.

Annals explains in the retraction notice, "In light of the inability to reproduce the published results, the editors cannot be confident in the integrity of the work reported in this article."

Wansink told Medscape Medical News the data is still useful.

"This article has useful implications for everyday cooks," he said in an emailed response. "Since the data is reasonably easy to collect, it will be easy for other groups of researchers to confirm our general finding and extend our original results to other cookbooks in other countries (such has already been done in Sweden, etc)."

In the 2009 article, Wansink took aim at "The Joy of Cooking" saying the calorie density and serving sizes in recipes in revisions of the classic cookbook had increased in editions since 1939 and concluded that home cooking may be playing a role in obesity. WebMD Health News wrote about the findings at the time.

Retraction Watch says Wansink's 17 retractions are not a record for researchers. "He's not even among the 30 authors with the most retractions in the world," the blog editors write.

Wansink has disclosed no relevant financial relationships. Retraction Watch was co-founded by Ivan Oransky, who is vice president of editorial for Medscape.

Ann Intern Med. Published online December 4, 2018. Full text

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