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Obesity Panacea bids adieu to ScienceBlogs

Friday, July 16, 2010 Posted by Travis Saunders
Some unfortunate, but probably unsurprising news - Peter and I have decided that we will no longer be publishing Obesity Panacea on Scienceblogs.  Future posts will be found on our original site at  We have come to the decision for a number of reasons, but the recent PepsiCo advertorial played by far the largest part.  For those who haven't been following the drama, PepsiCo purchased a nutrition blog on the Scienceblogs network. All content on this blog would be written by PepsiCo staff or other writers invited by PepsiCo and was therefore an advertorial, although it was not originally advertised to readers as such.  I should point out that the planned content may have been fantastic and evidence-based, but the optics and execution couldn't have been more bungled, or less ethical.  The bloggers on the network weren't alerted until just hours before the blog was launched.  Chaos ensued. For a full recap of the carnage I suggest Carl Zimmer's analysis here, and for excellent discussions of the journalistic ethics of such advertorials please see John Rennie or the Knight Journalism Tracker.  Although the PepsiCo blog was pulled before any posts were published, the episode has done incredible damage to the credibility of the network, as well as chasing away many of the wonderful science writers who attracted Peter and I to the network in the first place.  

I want to make clear that I am not fundamentally opposed to all engagement or partnership with private companies.  I am open to the possibility that there may be situations where it is appropriate, and even desirable, for scientific organizations to partner with companies like PepsiCo to serve the public good.  Determining if, when and under what conditions it can serve the public good is extremely complicated, which is why I have been hesitant to enter this debate in the past, and remain hesitant until I can better flesh out my own thoughts on the issue.  But it is clear that if there is an appropriate way to engage organizations like PepsiCo, it must be transparent, honest, and with a goal of serving the public good.  The recent partnership created by ScienceBlogs management was none of those things, and as a result Peter and I are no longer comfortable posting on their network.  

Some people may be wondering why we didn't make this announcement last week when the drama first unfolded.  To be honest, up until this week we were both on vacation with little (me) or no (Peter) internet access - Peter is still trekking in South America, and I was at my cottage in New Brunswick.  Only in the past few days were we able to catch-up on what we've missed and have a skype conversation to decide what to do next, which is easier said than done given that Peter is currently on an over-night bus traveling through rural Brazil.  During our conversation it was quite clear that neither of us was comfortable continuing to blog on Scienceblogs, so off we go.
Although this is an unpleasant end to our brief stay at Scienceblogs, I'd like to say that overall it has still been an extremely pleasant experience, due both to our current former sciblings, and the fantastic readers who have joined the discussion.  Thanks especially to Abbie from ERV, and Scicurious (formerly of Neurotopia) for openly campaigning for our addition to the network, as well as Bora Zivkovic and Dave Munger for their advice during the move.  I'm also hoping that collaborations like our recent podcast with current and former Sciencebloggers continue well into the future.  I have been an unabashed SEED/Scienceblogs fanatic for several years, and joining the Scienceblogs network was one of our stated goals when starting Obesity Panacea.  I hope they are able to work through this issue, but Peter and don't feel we can be a part of it.

A couple housekeeping notes - after today we will be updating the RSS feed, so if you're an email subscriber to Obesity Panacea on Scienceblogs, you will continue to receive all of our new posts on  If there are any problems with the new feed, please don't hesitate to contact us by email, Twitter, or by leaving a comment on either of our sites.

Thanks for all the wonderful support and comments on Scienceblogs, we hope to see all of you at

Travis & Peter

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3 Response to "Obesity Panacea bids adieu to ScienceBlogs"

  1. Todd I. Stark Said,

    A very welcome reminder that there is still such a thing as journalistic ethics in some communities.

    Posted on July 16, 2010 at 2:20 PM

  2. Februa Said,

    Well, Im sure you wont "like" this, but to be 100% honest, I stopped reading your blog when you went over to ScienceBlogs. Reason being, I cannot belive that while getting paid for the blog, the content remains the same as it would have outside of SB. Whatever you say wont convince me, when all of a sudden your words were sponsored and paid for by a corporation that is already dependant on advertising revenue to exist, it lost a lot of its credibility.
    Im a little surprised that no one on SB seems to consider that the fact that they are corporate sponsored takes away some of their credo. Ive spoken to NUMEROUS people in the last few weeks about SB, and they have all agreed that they feel the bloggers there are corporately managed, and even if its subconscious, write with the ultimate goal of keeping SB happy and keeping their $ rolling in.
    Maybe if SB had been run by a NFP or something like that people wouldnt feel this way, but I know for a fact that many people like myself will put more credit into what you write now that you are not at welcome back.

    Posted on July 16, 2010 at 4:52 PM


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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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