The 2009 study claimed that the book’s recipes changed over the years to add more calories. However, a reanalysis found that many numbers differed, and “many substantially so.” This is the latest in a number of papers by the same author that have been recently withdrawn.

Up until recently, Brian Wansink was one of the most respected scientists in the field of consumer behavior and food marketing. He was also the executive director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, publishing a number of influential papers, particularly on people’s food choices and how those food choices can be understood and improved.

However, in January 2017, the validity of his work started to be questioned after Wansink published a blog post about his experience with a graduate student. Wansink said he asked the graduate student to “salvage” conclusions from a study that had nill results.

This practice, while questionable, is not entirely beyond reason — after all, there’s a chance that something relevant might have slipped through the cracks. However, when the graduate student managed to publish five new papers from the study, things did seem a bit strange. So Jordan Anaya, Nicholas Brown, and Tim van der Zee analyzed the papers (called the “pizza papers”) and found a total of 150 questionable numbers, including impossible figures and tampered statistics. However, this was only the beginning of what would be a very quick downfall for Wansink.

Later in 2017, Anaya and colleagues found additional errors in six other papers published by members of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, where Wansink was working at the time. As of December 2017, six papers had been retracted and 14 corrections had been issued, and 2018 yielded similar problems for Wansink and colleagues.

By March 2018, two more papers had been retracted and in September 2018 JAMA retracted six papers by Wansink. An independent Cornell investigation found numerous shortcomings and evidence of data tampering, and as a result, Wansink has resigned — remaining in contact only to re-check his other works. As it turns out, such a re-evaluation found problems with yet another study.

The study in case focused on the “Joy of Cooking” — one of the most popular cookbooks in recent history, which has been in print continuously since 1936. Wansink initially reported that newer editions of the book features bigger portions and more calories. However, despite the retraction, Wansink said the study’s conclusions still stand, despite the differences in numbers.

A disclaimer

Wansink has helped shape the dietary guidelines, and his work has been widely cited for years. We at ZME Science have also covered several of his studies:

However, none of these have been retracted.

Here is a full list of the papers that have been withdrawn, along with any retraction notes.

“Retraction note: How Traumatic Violence Permanently Changes Shopping Behavior”Frontiers in Psychology8: 2140. 27 November 2017. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02140PMC 5712176PMID 29204134.
  • Siğirci, Özge; Wansink, Brian (19 November 2015). “RETRACTED ARTICLE: Low prices and high regret: how pricing influences regret at all-you-can-eat buffets”. BMC Nutrition1 (1). doi:10.1186/s40795-015-0030-x.
Siğirci, Özge; Wansink, Brian (15 September 2017). “Retraction Note: Low prices and high regret: how pricing influences regret at all-you-can-eat buffets”. BMC Nutrition3 (1). doi:10.1186/s40795-017-0195-6.
Wansink, Brian; Just, David R.; Payne, Collin R. (21 September 2017). “Notice of Retraction and Replacement. Wansink B, Just DR, Payne CR. Can Branding Improve School Lunches? 2012;166(10):967-968. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.999”. JAMA Pediatricsdoi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.3136.

Wansink, Brian; Just, David R.; Payne, Collin R. (1 December 2017). “Notice of Retraction. Wansink B, Just DR, Payne CR. Can Branding Improve School Lunches? 2012;166(10):967-968”. JAMA Pediatrics171 (12): 1230. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.4603PMID 29053760.
  • Wansink, Brian; Just, David R.; Payne, Collin R.; Klinger, Matthew Z. (October 2012). “RETRACTED: Attractive names sustain increased vegetable intake in schools”. Preventive Medicine55 (4): 330–332. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2012.07.012PMID 22846502.
  • Wansink, Brian; Park, Se-Bum (November 2002). “Retracted: Sensory Suggestiveness and Labeling: Do Soy Labels Bias Taste?”. Journal of Sensory Studies17 (5): 483–491. doi:10.1111/j.1745-459X.2002.tb00360.x.
“Retraction Statement: ‘Sensory suggestiveness and labeling: Do soy labels bias taste?’ by B. Wansink and S.-B. Park”. Journal of Sensory Studies32 (2): e12259. April 2017. doi:10.1111/joss.12259.
  • Wansink, Brian; Westgren, Randall (December 2003). “RETRACTED: Profiling taste-motivated segments”. Appetite41 (3): 323–327. doi:10.1016/S0195-6663(03)00120-X.

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